Summer 2024

ESPN's Sam Ponder back at work after suffering a seizure on a flight

As the daughter of two missionaries, ESPN NFL host Samantha Ponder has had God in her life from the very beginning. What started as an inner-city ministry building relationships with kids at parks in Phoenix, Ariz., eventually led to the creation of M.A.D. Ministries and Ponder’s parents serving in Palestine.

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“I’ve never met anybody in my life who serves and loves the Lord more than my mom and dad,” Ponder said recently on the Sports Spectrum Podcast.

Ponder decided she wanted to pursue sports broadcasting in third grade, and she started at ESPN in 2011. She worked on “College Gameday” as a sideline reporter, among other positions, before transitioning in 2017 into her current role as the host of “NFL Countdown.” She is only the third person to host the show in its 33-year history.

“It’s been amazing to see the people God’s put in my life that were able to open my eyes, to say, ‘Hey, maybe you can do even more,’” Ponder said.

Ponder does a great job and doesn’t miss work often, but she was forced to sit out a show after suffering a seizure during a flight Dec. 29.

“Thanks to everyone who has reached out about me missing the show yesterday,” Ponder posted in an Instagram story. “Unfortunately I had a seizure on the flight from Phx to NYC on Saturday and was unable to work. I’ve been undergoing tests and working with docs to figure out why this happened. Thanks to Trey Wingo for graciously filling in last minute and to everyone who’s been so supportive, including my husband and all my bosses/coworkers at ESPN. I hope to be back this Sunday. Thanks for all the love in the good and bad times.”

Ponder has recovered and is in Atlanta with ESPN to cover Super Bowl LIII.

Married to former NFL quarterback Christian Ponder, Samantha has three children: Scout, True and Price. And through her rise in the sports media industry and the fame that’s come with it, Ponder has continued to place her trust in Christ.

“I want my identity to be in something that is immovable, unchangeable,” she said. “Something that lasts.”

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