Did the Vikings signal the end of the Christian Ponder era stint by signing free agent quarterback Josh Freeman?
It certaintly seems like they did, even if coach Leslie Frazier says Ponder is still the starter as long as he's healthy.
Ponder says the fractured rib that forced him to miss Minnesota's win over Pittsburgh is causing "very little pain, if any." While it's possible Ponder gets the start this week against Carolina, it seems inevitable that Freeman will ultimately be the man.
"I don't know," Ponder said when asked by the Star Tribune what his future in Minnesota holds. "I mean I'm not managment and my focus right now is what I can control, which is getting healthy and preparation. We'll see what happens. It's their decision. It's not my decision. Obviously, I can control how I play."
ESPN's Ben Goessling writes that Ponder's "days with the benefit of doubt are just over."
Former NFL MVP and Super Bowl winning quarterback Kurt Warner wonders if it's time for the Vikings to move on from Ponder.
"Are they holding on and hoping that at some point it clicks?" asked Warner, as documented by the Pioneer Press. "Very few guys (don't) do anything then all of a sudden become all-pro guys. I never like to say a guy is or isn't (a franchise quarterback), but I haven't seen the big throw -- that consistent big throw down the field -- from Christian to make me say, 'There's no doubt you can win a championship with this guy.' "
What will Ponder be remembered for if this is the end of his era? Here are his notable career moments (good and bad).
April 28, 2011: Vikings draft Ponder with the 12th overall pick.
October 16, 2011: Ponder makes his NFL debut after Donovan McNabb was benched at Soldier Field. Ponder went 9-17 for 99 yards and the Vikings lost, 39-10.
October 23, 2011: Ponder makes his first NFL start on Sunday Night Football against the Packers. He goes 13-32 for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He nearly led Minnesota all the way back from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit.
September 23, 2012: Ponder throws for a touchdown and runs for another to lead the Vikings over the heavily favored 49ers, 24-13. San Francisco went on to the Super Bowl where their power ran out against the Ravens.
December 2, 2012: Ponder throws two horrible second half interceptions to Morgan Burnett -- both in the red zone -- and the Packers nearly destroy the Vikings' season with a 23-14 win.
December 2, 2012: After blowing the game to the Packers, Ponder goes home and proposes to Samantha Steele with an elaborate Christmas lights display.
December 30, 2012: Ponder throws three touchdowns to lead the Vikings over the Packers in a must-win game, 37-34. He injured his arm in the game and wasn't able to play in the rematch at Lambeau Field for the wild-card round of the playoffs.
September 9, 2013: Ponder fractures a rib in a loss to the Browns.
That takes us to Matt Cassel looking good against Pittsburgh the addition of Josh Freeman. If Ponder doesn't play again, those are the only true career highlights and lowlights that he might be remembered for.
There was never a Christian Ponder era. It (whenever his time in Minnesota ends) seems destined to be nothing more than a stint. Fran Tarkenton had an era. Wade Wilson had a stint. Compare their career numbers and you'll see why there is no such thing as a Christian Ponder era.
- Ponder: 30 games, 5,479 yards, 59.5 %, 33 TD, 30 INT
- Gannon: 48 games, 6,457 yards, 55.9 %, 40 TD, 36 INT
- Tarkenton: 177 games, 33,098 yards, 57.7 %, 194 TD, 89 INT