To say last night’s game was ugly is to sugarcoat the truth: last night’s game was a shitshow. For those of us on #TeamTeddy, the news that Bridgewater would be inactive came as a knell of doom for any hopes we had for the eventual outcome. Before halftime, Twitter was starting to see calls for Christian Ponder to be benched in favour of Chandler Harnish, who’d just been elevated from the practice squad (and who’d only just joined the team this week).
All through the preseason, I expected the Vikings to trade Ponder for (at best) a mid- to late-round pick. When that didn’t happen, I thought they were just going to hold on until a team’s starting quarterback got injured and then they could get a better trade … I didn’t think the Vikings would be on their third starting quarterback of the season by game 5! Now that Ponder has shown he really is who we thought he was, I doubt that anyone in the league is likely to call the Vikings and make an offer for Ponder’s services. As Jim Souhan says in his Star Tribune column today, he’s still the same old Ponder:
They could have called.
They could have gone to Hallmark.
They could have Instagrammed or texted or Facebooked or Snapchatted or beamed telepathic messages west.
Instead, the Vikings franchise turned an entire game on “Thursday Night Football” into a get-well card for Teddy Bridgewater, who will ever more be known as Not The Ponder.
Bridgewater has played six full quarters in the NFL. He has proved himself a franchise quarterback with his presence. He proved his value even more with his absence.
His presence made the Saints game competitive, and brought the Vikings an upset victory over Atlanta.
His absence may have destroyed what was left of Christian Ponder’s career, and the horrid tradition of “Thursday Night Football,” otherwise known as “What Time Can We Flip to ‘Scandal’?”
Without Bridgewater to engage Vikings receivers and TV viewers, another edition of TNF turned into a reason to take night classes on fall Thursdays.
In a performance that conjured images of Josh Freeman and Spergon Wynn throwing knuckleballs and sabotaging their careers on Monday night games in 2001 and 2013, Ponder proved that you can believe some of the people some of the time but never football coaches when they’re trying to protect the feelings of a former first-round quarterback or the man who drafted him.
When the Vikings kept saying nice things about Ponder during training camp, you had to figure they were hoping to trade him. When they kept saying nice things about him while keeping him on the roster, you had to wonder whether offensive coordinator Norv Turner had rewired Ponder the way some made scientists can turn a toaster into a short-wave radio.
Thursday’s 42-10 loss was a reminder that in politics, parenting and sports, what people do always counts for much more than what they say.