On Saturday night, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was inactive from the game day roster due to an elbow injury. This decision propelled back up quarterback Joe Webb into the starting position despite not having played extended time in a single game during the 2012 season. The Vikings subsequently lost their match against the Packers, and saw their season come to a close.
The move seemed drastic and curious to many Vikings fans who had followed the team throughout the week. News of Ponder's injury was public knowledge as early as the last game of the regular season against the Packers, when Ponder was seen gingerly testing his throwing arm after a painful hit. Yet the quarterback was able to continue to play through the remainder of that game, making so very critical throws, and help the Vikings get the win.
The question then came up; what happened to Christian Ponder's throwing elbow between the last regular season game and the playoff game that forced him to sit? The answer? "He fell down the stairs." Allegedly.
With the season at an end and players returning to the Vikings' facilities at Winter Park to clean out their lockers earlier this week, Ponder was showing off the extent of his arm injury to teammates and reporters, so they could get a sense of just how hurt he was, still, days after the playoff game.
"It really hurts," Ponder said, lifting his arm up and showcasing the deep bruise and welts to onlookers. "It's a deep bruise, extending from my elbow all the way to my shoulder. I can barely lift my arm! Definitely couldn't do much throwing on Saturday night."
Reporters continued to press him on how this injury could have occurred though. "Well," Ponder explained tentatively, "I mean, I was hit during last week's game … But … I guess that doesn't really explain the scratch marks that kind of appear here … Uh …"
Ponder seemed to glance at his phone, as if he was awaiting a call from an informant or like someone was watching him. He then looked to the far corner of the locker room, where his newly minted wife could be seen squinting at him as she helped carry boxes of belongings out of the locker room. Suddenly shy, Ponder responded.
"I, uh, I fell down some stairs early last week. That's all," he said as he fidgeted with his shirt sleeve, trying to hide the bruises on his arm. "It's nothing really, it doesn't even hurt. I just … I tripped over … My, ah, jersey, that I left by our stairs to take down to the wash, and when I fell I must have … Ah … Hit my bicep really hard on the railing going down. Then probably knocked it as I was rolling and falling on each of the supports in the railings and … Yeah … It was just an accident, I promise. I'll never do it again."
As an accident, it certainly was an unfortunate accident. The Vikings defense played well enough to win Saturday night, holding the Green Bay offense to 24 points. The week prior, a Ponder-led Vikings offense managed to put up 37 points, so you have to wonder if the playoff game would have been winnable with Ponder at the helm. It's something we'll never know, and something Ponder won't talk about.
"I promise, it's nothing," he said as he exited the building and put a cap on the 2012 season. "I promise I'll be fine. My wife will take good care of me, she will. She always does. I, uh, I have to go now, she's staring at me. Thanks everyone. Pray for me."