The Minnesota Vikings recognized quarterback Christian Ponder as the Vikings Children's Fund Rookie of the Year for 2011 during their annual charity golf tournament Wednesday.
It's the first time the Vikings have presented the award and something that head coach Leslie Frazier instituted this year.
"It's a tradition that we're beginning that we hope will be a tradition for many, many years to come to be able to recognize those rookies on our football team who do a good job off the field, but also do a good job in our community as well," Frazier said.
"I was really surprised when I got here that it wasn't done. Most places recognize the top rookie on your team, whether you do internally or externally. It was something that we talked about with the (Wilf ownership group) and they agreed it would be a good idea."
Ponder was one of the many players participating in Wednesday's fundraiser for the Vikings Children's Fund. A $5,000 donation will be made in Ponder's name to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.
Ponder said the Amplatz Children's Hospital and Special Olympics are two charities he especially enjoys helping.
"I knew coming in (as a rookie), wherever I was going to get drafted, I was going to divulge myself into the community and wherever I was living be here full time," Ponder said. "Minnesota has been so great to me, I wanted to do as much as possible to give back. There are so many opportunities to do that, especially when you're a Minnesota Viking. People want to have you out all the time. It's fun. I really enjoy doing that."
The Vikings plan to make it an annual award to recognize the member of the previous rookie class that best represented himself and the franchise on and off the field.
"There have been so many great rookies in the history of the Minnesota Vikings. Why not recognize their achievements?" Frazier said of his idea to start the annual award. "Really it puts the spotlight on what they're doing on the field but (also) off the field, so a combination of the two, which hopefully will increase guys' willingness to get out in the community and support our community. That's a big deal and Christian understands that."
Ponder started the final 10 games of 2011 and was heavily involved in Vikings Community Tuesday events and various outreach initiatives.
"He sets the tone in so many ways for our football team," Frazier said. "When other young guys come to our team and they recognize that our quarterback is one of the leaders when it comes to community involvement – not only is he a good football player but he's leader in that area, it's got to have a spillover effect."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Ponder gets new Vikings rookie award
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