Minnesota Vikings quarterback and No. 12 overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, Christian Ponder, 24, can't seem to stop gushing about his new girlfriend, ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steele, 26, now that they've publicly confirmed their relationship. "I'm proud of the relationship," said a smiling Ponder, who revealed his teammates have nicknamed him Christian Steele (50 Shades anyone?). "I can brag. I've got bragging rights, I believe."

The young couple met on the set of College GameDay several months ago, but only just confirmed their relationship last Friday. "There's been a thousand articles today about it," Ponder said last week. "You can't really worry about it. You've got to try to keep it private, but that's just part of the industry, part of the job. I don't know. Comes with the territory." But there's advantages to sharing the same industry, too: namely, that their careers are synchronized. "The cool thing is that obviously, we're both [working] at the same time, so we don't get to see each other that much, but at least one person isn't feeling guilty about not making the effort to do it or whatever," Ponder explained. "Then we kind of have the same schedule in the offseason, so that'll be good."

Now that they've gone public, Ponder is not holding back. The quarterback teased Steele on Twitter, saying "I was surprised to see @samantha_steele in Target today" — with a picture of a Cinderella doll box.

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See Christian Ponder's new girlfriend, Samantha Steele, in action, in this Longhorn Extra Decathlon clip:

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