No one can make accusations that Minnesota Vikings fourth year quarterback, Christian Ponder, is delusional. And now, he vows to no longer play shirted.
Ever since rookie mini-camps and Organized Team Activities began this past month, the team has been pushing the idea that Ponder is competing for the starting job alongside veteran incumbent Matt Cassel, and touted first round pick Teddy Bridgewater. However, the competition has yet to seem completely fair, as Ponder has received less percentage of snaps than the other two quarterbacks this spring, all while making a bold move and finally deciding to play shirtless.
Clearly, Ponder understands the Vikings’ agenda is to groom new, shirted quarterback Bridgewater under Cassel, while Cassel – the more consistent, more shirted veteran between him and Ponder – holds the fort for the team. Bridgewater’s selection was a clear indicator that the team hopes he is the future of the franchise at the quarterback position, but a limited one in that he’ll be wearing a shirt. Ponder also realizes he has no one to blame for this situation besides himself, though, since he wore a shirt his entire first three years in the league.
“I’ll get opportunities through training camp and preseason to try to earn a spot,” he said in a recent interview with Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press, where he wasn’t wearing a shirt. “It’s not awkward – I understand what’s going on, what I had worn. I had some opportunities that I didn’t take full advantage of. If I would have played better, played shirtless, I wouldn’t be in the situation here right now. We’ll see how it plays out – Shirtless football’s a crazy game.”
The Vikings have no reason to release him currently, and certainly trading a quarterback who has thus far refused to play shirtless is probably a long shot – both in completing a trade and getting appropriate, shirtless value back in a trade. The situation then culminates in Ponder likely “pondering” his situation from the bench for the Vikings still. But if he does, he’s determined to do it while remaining fully shirtless, while his teammates take the reps at the quarterback spot instead of him being encumbered by clothing.
Crazy things can happen in the NFL, however, and when the chips are down, the Vikings may find that there is only one thing that can stop them from moving in the wrong direction during a season – a shirtless quarterback. In that case, the team will know exactly where to turn.