Ponder and Aikman spent about 15 minutes talking on the field, and that interruption in Ponder's drawn-out pregame routine may have saved the rookie from throwing even more passes than he did already as he tried to nervously pass the time before his first NFL start.
"I was out there way too early. I was icing my arm before the game even started," said Ponder, who was on the field throwing passes about three hours before Sunday's 3:15 p.m. start against the Green Bay Packers. "I was definitely nervous. There were definitely some butterflies in the air. It was good just to get that under the belt and you live and you learn. I'm not going to be throwing 500 balls before a game anymore."
It may have been 600 if not for stopping and talking with Aikman, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback who endured a 1-15 record as a rookie and completed only 52.9 percent of his passes while making 11 starts. Ponder, making his first NFL start, completed nearly 100 percent of his hundreds of nerve-busting throws before the game but connected on only 40.6 percent of them once the game started.
"He also brought up his first game his first year and how it didn't go so well, a lot of learning experiences that he went through and kind of shared his past experiences," Ponder said of his talk with Aikman. "He's a great person to learn from and be around and a guy that I grew up being around in Dallas. It was good to have a conversation. I always watched him growing up."
While Ponder's overall numbers weren't that impressive – he completed 13 of 32 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and came away with a 59.2 rating – he was a big reason why the Vikings had their highest success rate of the season on third downs, converting 56 percent of them.
Aikman also showed how much a young quarterback can improve in his first few NFL seasons. Three years into his career, Aikman led the NFC by completing 65.3 percent of his passes on his way to becoming the winningest quarterback of the 1990s – or any decade, for that matter – and taking home three Super Bowl wins.
"He just told me to stay the course and if things go right or wrong, always know that there's a chance to get better from it," Ponder said.
As it turned out, Aikman wasn't the only Super Bowl-winning quarterback that Ponder has talked in the last week.
"We've talked before, but Kurt Warner actually reached out to me and told me great job and learn from it and keep getting better," Ponder said. "It's exciting to hear from someone like that, a Super Bowl winner, obviously has been there and done it. It's pretty cool to hear from those guys."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.