Jon "Stugotz" Weiner Credit: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

Shot out of a cannon—if you could be anyone in sports media, who would it be? Adam Schefter? No thanks (too much pressure). Pat McAfee? Wrong again. The no-brainer answer is and always will be Jon “Stugotz” Weiner of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.

Conniving, defiantly uninformed and most of all lazy, Weiner embodies all of sports media’s worst traits. Yet, like rudderless sitcom dads Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin, his shameless incompetence is more charming than infuriating, endearing himself to a podcast audience that revels in his buffoonery, smitten by an oafish everyman desecrating his profession with startling efficiency.

A self-professed gasbag with the attention span of a goldfish, the stubbled court jester known as Stugotz may be the least qualified voice in sports, an unreliable narrator who lies for sport, painting false narratives and bad-faith arguments like Da Vinci with a brush. Hat-headed with vocal cords charred by years of overindulgence (his affinity for “heaters” is well-documented), Weiner’s words mean nothing, as empty as the rusted bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum.

His jokes are poorly delivered and often fed to him by producers. It’s obvious he no longer writes his signature “Weekend Observations” (often performed, due to his frequent absences, on Tuesday and sometimes as late as Wednesday). He disappears for weeks at a time, weaponizing Meadowlark’s unlimited vacation policy like a loaded pistol. He’s a lousy employee and an even worse teammate, stammering through phlegmy monologues about players he perceives as frauds, dismissively telling Chris Paul to “do it in the playoffs” while insisting neither of Kevin Durant’s championships count in his “personal record book.”

Speaking almost exclusively in cliches, Stugotz hasn’t watched sports with any regularity since at least the pandemic, wearing his blind spots like a badge of honor. Weiner’s ineptitude goes well beyond the realm of gleeful ignorance, recently mistaking country singer Jake Owen for Jets newcomer Aaron Rodgers, a recurring guest he’s interviewed countless times on The Le Batard Show. A purported Mets fan, the native Long Islander couldn’t even identify All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, failing to pick him out of a lineup earlier this year.

Weiner’s accent is as strong as the day he left New York for South Florida almost 30 years ago, ironic considering how the rest of his mind and body have deteriorated, mailing in segments and shows like a checked-out high schooler afflicted with a particularly acute case of senioritis (not that he was ever a pillar of polished professionalism). Whenever he’s on assignment, representing the company in Lake Tahoe or elsewhere, producers like Billy Gil and Mike Ryan are meant to “wrangle” Stugotz, not unlike shepherds tending to their flocks. Despite his delusions, pulling from a deep reserve of unearned confidence, the only subject Weiner is equipped to discuss with any level of proficiency is 90s baseball, rattling off obscure names from the late 20th century with encyclopedic accuracy.

Stugotz, who famously went 0-14 betting college bowl games in 2019, has never been on the show less, spending the spring shuttling between Miami and Chicago to watch his daughter play lacrosse on Northwestern’s National Championship team. That trend has continued throughout the summer, frying his brain with psychedelics while traveling for Dead and Company’s farewell tour. Thanks to Zoom, working and following the Dead doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, though it is for Stugotz, who isn’t tech-savvy enough to contribute remotely, requiring significant audio and engineering assistance.

A prolific slacker who would be more decorated than 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps if selfishness was an Olympic sport, Weiner lives to find shortcuts, except when it comes to his commute, traveling an hour each way (on a good day) from his home in Parkland to the show’s Miami studios. Stugotz, it seems, is allergic to being helpful, actively playing defense against a show that is plenty hectic without his chaotic influence.

That may sound like criticism, but it’s not. Stugotz is comfort food, a musician playing the hits. There’s a rhythm and cadence to Weiner’s performance, blurting out athlete nicknames (word association is one of his favorite gimmicks) with the clearheaded confidence of a suburban dad on his riding mower.

There’s still some ambiguity as to whether Stugotz, in his purest form, is really this asinine or if he’s merely embodying a character, brilliantly satirizing unsophisticated blowhards like the one he grew up idolizing, sports radio’s original shock jock, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. Whether it’s performance art or a clever ruse concocted by a spineless schemer who never met a predicament he couldn’t talk his way out of, Stugotz holds all the cards, stacking the deck in a way that prevents him from ever losing. He’s a content fountain, as reliable a plot device as Le Batard has in his arsenal, invoking frustration, disgust, amusement and disbelief in equal measure.

“[Dan] and I have spent nearly two decades constructing a character that could really turn any negative into a positive. Could withstand anything,” said Weiner of his Rodgers mishap. “I’m always winning because this is the way we designed my character to be.”

It might surprise you to learn that Weiner actually discovered Le Batard, giving the popular newspaper columnist a platform on 790 The Ticket. The rest is history with Le Batard and Stugotz instantly becoming on-air soulmates, an unlikely pairing that, despite their wildly different perspectives and sensibilities, has managed to stand the test of time. It’s a high-wire act that wouldn’t work if Stugotz had any capacity for shame or embarrassment. Fortunately, he’s game for anything, gladly playing the mischievous class clown to Le Batard’s sardonic straight man.

Self-help gurus would tell you to work smarter, not harder. The miracle of Stugotz is that he’s found a way to avoid both, gladly bogging down the show with his frequent absences, supplying endless show material even when his seat is vacant. A picture of complacency and privilege, Weiner occupies an enviable position as the face of God Bless Football. The podcast exists mostly as a networking event for Stugotz, cozying up to minor stars (Joba Chamberlain, Mojo Rawley and Chris Gronkowski, etc.) in hopes of landing progressively bigger fish, swelling his celebrity rolodex to the size of a prize pumpkin at the county fair. Remarkably, most of the A-list athletes that appear on the show gravitate to Stugotz, preferring his innocuous water-cooler talk to Le Batard’s more invasive interview tactics.

Unlike producers who try to make Stugotz color between the lines, Gil—the brains behind God Bless Football—knows what an unstoppable force he’s dealing with, content to let the show devolve into whatever anarchy the two can summon from the depths of their neurotic minds. While other members of the “Shipping Container” crave airtime, eager to fire off punchlines and takes in a desperate race to the microphone, Gil would rather play point guard, dishing off to Stu for easy layups.

Nobody works a room like Stugotz, a master grifter who could teach a graduate course on the subtleties of benign, surface-level small talk, brown-nosing and schmoozing his way to the very top of sports media. What separates Weiner from the Colin Cowherds and Skip Baylesses of the world is his general affability, one half of the oddball dynamic that has made the Le Batard Show a lasting treasure spanning generations of listeners. He’s not condescending or abrasive, never pretending to be anything other than Dan’s wacky sidekick, embracing his role as an eccentric goofball in the realm of Cosmo Kramer. There’s no malice or ill intent, just a promise that whatever he does will be entertaining, whether it’s trying to beat a lie detector, using his gift of gab to score exclusive dinner reservations or striking up conversations with guys named Murray.

Predictably, Stugotz has been a staple of the show’s “Suey Awards,” becoming an annual fixture in the “Worst Mistake” category with regrettable lapses like the time he confused Toni Collins with Cassidy Hubbarth or when he commented on Jonathan Coachman’s “tan,” apparently unaware that Coachman is black. Weiner’s clumsiness has birthed countless catchphrases (“I didn’t ask for any of this” and “How about that,” among others), many of them made into t-shirts and other merchandise available for sale on the show’s website.

Calling Weiner a genius is probably giving him too much credit, but he’s certainly gamed the system, arriving in a place where the worse he is at his job, the more applause he receives. It’s a neat trick if you can pull it off, and Stugotz largely does, a portrait of arrested development obsessed with 80s action flicks (Tango & Cash, in particular), sandwiches and chumming it up with anyone remotely famous.

It’s natural to have conflicted feelings about Stugotz’s success, seeing him fail upwards as so many struggle to find their footing in a competitive industry. But you have to admire the niche he’s found for himself as Le Batard’s bumbling copilot, a welcome reprieve from the glut of self-serious shows that too often forget to have fun.

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.