Lots of folks feel bad for the Packers; Vikings QB Christian Ponder isn’t one of ’em
With the Minnesota Vikings coming off an improbable victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, in light of his above-average performance over the season’s first three weeks, is beginning to receive some positive attention in NFL circles. Leading the Vikings to a surprising 2-1 record, Ponder, although lacking in making big plays down the field, has been a model of consistency teams expect from its quarterback (70.1% completion rate, 4 TD, O INT, 104.9 QB rating).
So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Ponder is taking a more even-keeled approach to the controversy surrounding the NFL replacement referees, taking in the entire ugly situation with a bit of levity. But with reports circulating that a deal between the NFL and the locked-out regular officials may be near, some may argue that further discussion of the ham-fisted performance by the replacement refs is a moot point, something I argue couldn’t be further from the truth. Much remains to be discussed relating to the impact the scab refs may or may not have on the entire season as it progresses, even if the regular officials are on their way back.
Going against the grain during an interview with the Star Tribune, Ponder said he actually empathizes with the replacement officials:
“The thing is, the replacement guys have been put in such a tough situation. They’re doing the best they can and you can’t blame them for anything. They’re busting their butts to do it. Even when the regular guys come back, they’re going to make mistakes as well.
“So I feel bad for them. They’re doing a lot of hard work. I appreciate what they’re doing.”
Ponder admitted he did see the debacle that occurred on Monday night, but argues that it was a split-second play and perhaps folks shouldn’t rush to judgment too quickly:
“It was a tough call. When you’re out there, it’s so hard to see things in split seconds with things going so fast. It was a tough call. If I stuck myself out there, I don’t know what I would have called.”
But perhaps the most telling statement by Ponder about the replacement refs is what he said about how he feels about NFC North rival Packers getting completely jobbed on the penultimate play of Monday night’s game between Green Bay and Seattle that saw the Pack get their guts ripped out, having a victory snatched right out of their hands courtesy of the ineptitude of the replacement officials.
When asked if he felt sorry for the Packers, Ponder’s response? Doing his best impression of Justin Timberlake impersonating Robin Gibb on the classic batch of “Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketches from Saturday Night Live: “No. No, I don’t.”
Full Disclosure: I cannot confirm or deny whether Ponder actually said “No. No, I don’t” just like Timberlake. But it would have been funny if he did.