“What happens next? Who knows?” writes Richard Deitsch. “There is no blueprint for a high-profile sports television reporter dating a professional athlete in today’s social media world, and [ESPN sideline reporter Samantha] Steele’s personal life now becomes part of the Twitterverse.”
For its part, ESPN does not consider the relationship a journalistic conflict given that Steele covers college football and Ponder plays in the NFL.
“We do not comment on, or confirm, personal aspects of employees’ lives,” an ESPN spokesperson said. “Regarding any policies, we expect any commentator to raise any relationship that could be a conflict with the sport they cover. This does not fit that scenario as she covers college football.”