ESPN announced on Thursday that Samantha Ponder will be the new host of Sunday NFL Countdown, replacing the legendary Chris Berman. Ponder had been working on College Gameday and Saturday Night Football on ABC since 2012 as a reporter.
“My first reaction in all honesty was ‘WHAT?’ Chris Berman is synonymous with NFL coverage,” Ponder said in an ESPN release. “To me, that’s why it’s so important to not look at this as replacing Chris Berman, because that is an absolutely impossible task.”
Sam is quite familiar with the NFL world as she is married to Christian Ponder, an NFL quarterback, who has played six seasons and was with the 49ers last season.
“To me, being the wife of a NFL player is a huge advantage in terms of the type of stuff you know that’s going on that maybe is not a part of public discourse, and there’s a chance to create conversation among our guys on the desk.”
Ponder, 31, shared a letter to her College Gameday colleagues, thanking them for helping her on her broadcast journey. “Since I started in this industry in 2004, I always promised myself that I would make it about the people,” Ponder wrote. “The people I worked with, the people I covered and the people watching at home. College Gameday is special for a lot of reasons, but none more so than the group of people who make it run.”
A letter to my college football family: https://t.co/fpTDEUKWda
— Sam Ponder (@sam_ponder) March 23, 2017
Ponder, a believer in Jesus, is expecting her second child this spring. She’s also Mommy to 2-year-old daughter Bowden “Scout” Sainte-Claire, who is named after Christian’s football coach Bobby Bowden from Florida State University.
Sam is a graduate of Liberty University, class of 2009. As a Christ follower, she said her faith has helped her shrug off the pressures that consistently come with working in such a high profile, competitive industry.
“It takes away the worry that I think is so prevalent in this industry, that constant paranoia that people aren’t going to like you, or what are people going to say on Twitter or online?” Ponder to Liberty in 2013. “I have lucked out that I’ve gotten to work with some people who share my faith, right now on ‘College GameDay’ working with a guy like David Pollack who loves the Lord and loves his family can be an encouragement to me.”
Ponder went on to tell Liberty that her career has progressed a lot faster than she thought but understands that all the credit goes to God. “I think the cool thing about that as a believer was to see that that’s no big deal for him,” Ponder said. “He made the moon and the stars. Getting a 22 year old or 23 year old a job that she thinks is cool is no big deal for him.”
Best wishes and prayers to Sam, not only in her new job endeavor, but also in her family as they await the arrival of their second child.