🎧 TFG Podcast: Sam Ponder on Motherhood, Countdown and Nonstop Harassment

From the The Football Girl Podcast, hosted by Melissa Jacobs. Subscribe to get new episodes of the pod in your feed the second we publish – and if you like what you hear, please rate and/or review us!  Listen on Stitcher | Listen on Google Play 

A year ago Sam Ponder was given the biggest of shoes to fill when she replaced Chris Berman as host of Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN. In this wide-ranging convo, Ponder discusses the myriad ways Year 2 has been much more comfortable than Year 1, some of which may have to do with how she inspires Rex Ryan to dance during commercial breaks!

Ponder also delves into motherhood including how her newborn’s recent emergency surgery has drastically changed her perspective on parenting. Plus how she’s truly trying to live family first, job second. Finally, Ponder talks about the incessant harassment she receives and offers her thoughts on why ESPN almost giving a show to a notoriously misogynistic outlet would have been a mistake.

Also in the episode, Melissa continues to mourn the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo and thinks she’s found a solution to the Super Bowl halftime show’s snoozefest announcement this year. And Larry Fitzgerald is our Do-Gooder of the Week.

The Show

The Rundown

1:15: Why the 49ers shouldn’t make a play for a QB

4:20: How to improve the Super Bowl halftime show


10:28: Ponder on the traumatic experience and silver lining of her newborn needing emergency surgery at three days old

17:00: Ponder on shifting her life to truly prioritize her children

23:15: Ponder on the challenges of Year 1 of Countdown and why she believes Year 2 is much improved.

28:15: How Ponder brings the fun during the commercial breaks of Countdown

30:09: The difficulty of hosting a pregame show last year when the anthem protest dominated headlines

35:10: Ponder on gender and feeling a responsibility to succeed

38:20: Ponder on how she felt when ESPN was going to give a show to a notably misogynistic outlet that has incessantly harassed her

42:15: The Twitter filter that has saved Ponder a lot of time

50:05: Ponder on how harassment of her and other female sports journalists could get better

56:12: Our Do-Gooder of the Week is Larry Fitzgerald.

The Social

Follow Sam on Twitter: @sam_ponder

Follow Melissa on Twitter: @thefootballgirl

The Quotables

Ponder on the pressure of being a female first (as host of Countdown)

“It’s somewhat burdensome to know that not that many, if any, women have been given a position like this, you sure don’t want to screw it up. You screw it up and the fear is, ‘Are they going to give the next one a chance?’ I wrestle with that and feel a lot of responsibility not for making the show perfect or the ratings need to be a certain way, but more hat I do good work. That I put in the effort. That I know what I’m talking about. That I ask good questions.”

Ponder on the ridiculous notion that harassment is supposed to come with the territory

“I’ve had stalkers before where I’ve had to get restraining orders and look, that’s just life for women in this industry. The thing that drives me nuts is when people say, ‘that’s what you signed up for.’ No, there was never any process where someone said, ‘hey, if you want this job you’re going to be vigorously harassed to the point where you’re scared and your children are sleeping in the next room because people show up at your house. That’s not what I signed up for. I signed up to be a reporter for the Phoenix Suns.”

Ponder on improved chemistry on the Countdown set

“This year has been such a huge difference already in terms of the connections we all have as a group. That was my goal. From being on College Gameday for six years I believe so strongly that the chemistry you have comes through the tv. People at home want to watch if they just feel like they’re hanging out with you.”