The picture in front of you is Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder’s right arm. Ponder was drawing some criticism for not finding a way to fight through his elbow pain and play in last Saturday night’s playoff loss to the Packers. After seeing the image, it’s hard to blame him for not playing in his NFC Wild Card game.
Here’s another NFL quarterback last weekend aside from RG3 who was faced with a decision to play injured. Ponder felt he would be hurting his team’s chances of winning because he couldn’t throw over 10 yards. The Vikings quarterback explains in the following interview how tough it was to sit out his first playoff game. Christian Ponder joined KFAN in Minneapolis with Paul Allen to discuss leading the Minnesota Vikings to a playoff berth in the final game of the season, the amount of swelling there was in his right arm, not being able to throw more than 10 yards before last Saturday’s playoff game, the decision behind not playing in that game against the Packers and feeling cheated he couldn’t play because of his elbow injury.
Well at least you went out in style by leading the Minnesota Vikings to a playoff berth in Week 17 before being unable to play with the elbow injury:
“[Laughs] Yeah, obviously that game was important and a fun one to be a part of. I’m very disappointed I didn’t get to play in the last one.”
When I saw your right arm at Lambeau Field after the game it looked gross. It was unbelievable. How’s all the bruising up and down the nine inches of your arm?
“When I got hit, that whole area swelled up. I don’t know, those reports came out that said I had bursitis. The whole thing was so swollen and there was a pocket right above my elbow that was pretty swollen. Everyone was joking around that I was just doing bicep curls just with one arm, but I mean, it was all pretty swollen. All that swelling finally came to the surface and showed up as a bruise as the swelling went down.”
The weird thing with this injury for you was that you were able to finish the game and make big throws in Week 17, but you couldn’t throw the ball before the playoff game. Correct?
“Yeah, it was painful that whole game after it got hit. Basically I had to keep it loose. I had to keep throwing on the sidelines when we weren’t in and even after the play, we took a timeout and I had to throw to make sure I stayed loose. It swelled up during the whole game, and even on that last throw to Michael Jenkins I didn’t get a lot on the ball because the arm was hurting already. Adrenaline is a heck of a thing and it really got me through it, and afterwards it just kept swelling up and locked up on me. … That’s what people don’t understand. I’ve played through pain my whole career. I’ve played with broken ribs and banged knees and dislocated fingers … and I’ve played with an elbow issue my senior year at Florida State. It wasn’t a thing about pain. There are obvious things you can do with pain. I couldn’t throw the football. My triceps had shut down and when you get a thing like this, it doesn’t function. The triceps are a pretty important muscle to throw the football and I couldn’t throw the ball. I threw the ball 10 yards, and everyone makes jokes about you don’t throw the ball 10 yards in a game anyway, but a 10-yard throw from the left hash to the right side of the field is more like a 25- to 30-yard throw in reality.”
When you say ‘people’ don’t understand your injury, do you mean the fans or the media?
“I’ve seen it everywhere. I haven’t seen former players say anything, but just through tweets and stuff, but the hardest decision was the fact that was what was best for the team. Everybody says you gotta put the team first and go play, but I put the team first. I want to be out playing the game. I don’t think anyone realized that. Why would I not want to be out playing? The things I would have been able to do this year, like play in my first playoff game against the rival in Green Bay. Obviously during the year I didn’t play very well. Why wouldn’t I want to be able to go and have that redemption, to be able to play and do the thing that I am able to do and have fun? I love playing the game and that’s why I play the game. Why would I want to be sitting on the sideline? The decision was I put the team first and if I can’t throw, what I am going to do in a 3rd-and-9 situation? Just hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson and hope we get it? That’s not good for the team. Joe Webb was a lot more effective than I could have been.”
Did you feel cheated that you couldn’t play in the playoff game against the Packers?
“Yeah. It was very frustrating and disappointing to go through all those things and all the ups and downs throughout the whole season, but the way the whole team fought and finished those four games, it was kind of a new energy. Going into the playoffs, and what we went through last year to be able to be in the playoffs, and not be able to play, we’re very disappointed to say the least.”