ABOUT JOSH ZERKLE (updated March 26, 2012)
Josh in Van Heusen’s “Schlub To Swagger” campaign.
Josh Zerkle, also known as “Monday Morning Punter, Punter”, “MMP,” or “PUNTE” (POON-tay), is an American sports blogger and freelance writer.
He is best known as one of the original Lead Writers for the digital sports network Bleacher Report, and as one of the five co-founders of the NFL humor blog Kissing Suzy Kolber. He is the former managing editor of the sports humor and gossip site With Leather. He is the producer and host of the off-color NFL podcast HOUSE of PUNTE. His work has been seen on Deadspin, WashingtonPost.com, Sports By Brooks, and Every Day Should Be Saturday, among other outlets.
Josh’s work is primarily opinion-based takes on current sports news, featuring contrarian, sometimes off-color commentary. His work can take on a sarcastic and acerbic tone, while often pushing the boundaries of what may be considered conversationally appropriate. Although he has described his writing voice as that of “the perverted uncle at the end of the sports bar,” the tone of his pieces depends largely on the outlet for which he is writing.
He is sometimes recognized by his large bald head (he wears a size 7-3/4 cap) and short, well-manicured goatee.
Josh first commented on Deadspin as “Monday Morning Punter” in May of 2006. He would keep that pseudonym, a play on the name of the Peter King NFL column “Monday Morning Quarterback,” as one of five Deadspin commenters that founded Kissing Suzy Kolber (KSK). KSK is often referred to as a spinoff of Deadspin, but KSK’s satirical work is quite different from the alternative news format of the Gawker sports site. KSK won instant acclaim, and soon became destination reading for NFL fans looking for levity and humor in their pro football coverage.
Shortly after accepting a weekend contributor position at Deadspin, Josh “came out” and revealed his actual name on July 11, 2008, when it was announced that he would be a regular weekend contributor on Deadspin.
Josh posted “How Punter Spent Earth Hour: A Running Diary” on KSK in March of 2008. The fictitious piece showcased Josh’s rebellious acts against environmental conservation, including his attempt to spray-paint “PUNTER-PALOOZA” into his front lawn. After making the letters too big (and eventually running out of space to spray), a passerby asked, “What’s PUNTE?” The post was well-received by KSK readers, and Josh would eventually adopt PUNTE as his primary moniker.
KSK was featured by the men’s magazine GQ as one of “73 Reasons We’re Living In A New Golden Age Of Football” in their September 2008 issue.
In October 2008, HOUSE OF PUNTE: The KSK Podcast, made its debut on KSK, with Josh as producer and host. The weekly podcast features an ensemble panel discussing NFL and other sports news, along with guest interviews. To date, Josh has interviewed several current and former NFL players, including Larry Fitzgerald, Justin Tuck, Ndamukong Suh and Herschel Walker. The podcast was eventually spun off from KSK, as fewer episodes appeared on that site.
The podcast was nominated for an #USMAP award in 2011. The weekly program currently is in hiatus.
In February 2009, Josh was named managing editor of With Leather, the sports news, humor and gossip site started by his KSK colleague, Matt Ufford. Ufford left the site to start Warming Glow, a television blog written in the same vein as With Leather. Josh brought in other contributors to fill out the site, paying many of them out of his own pocket. He left the site in April of 2011. David Matthews covered Josh’s departure for The Good Men Project, citing that Josh had “become too fed up with how the blogging business had become a Business.”
Josh left KSK in July of 2011 to become one of the five original Lead Writers at Bleacher Report. The all-star group included Bethlehem Shoals, Dan Rubenstein, Dan Levy and Matt Miller. The group was brought on in a highly-publicized move to improve the image and quality at what was already the United States’ fourth-largest sports website.
Poker and Other Event Coverage
In February 2010, Josh participated in the Trash Talk Championship of the World at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He finished 27th in a field of 60 celebrities and poker pros. In June of 2010, Josh covered the main event of the World Series of Poker with daily updates and a photo journal. He also took first in the WSOP’s media event, finishing first out of 128 participants. He counts poker among his hobbies.
In the fall 0f 2009, Josh covered the East Coast Regional final of the US Pole Dancing Federation. Among his interview subjects were USPDF co-founder Anna Grundstrom and participant Karol Helms, who went on to win the event.
Super Bowl XLIV Prediction
Josh correctly predicted the final score of Super Bowl XLIV, which saw the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17. Josh made identical picks on The Gally Blog and the Joe Sports Fan podcast.
“I don’t expect Dwight Freeney to play…I think the Saints are really underrated on defense…I think the Saints are gonna have sort of a home field advantage down there in Miami. I’ll give you a score, I’ll say Saints 31, Colts 17. It’ll be 24-17 and then the Saints will tack on one [touchdown] more.”
With the Saints leading 24-17 in that game, Saints defensive back Tracy Porter returned a Peyton Manning interception 74 yards for the last touchdown of the game, essentially fulfilling Josh’s “prophecy.”
Josh at “Blogs With Balls” and other events
In June of 2010, Josh spoke as a panelist at the sports media event “Blogs With Balls 3” in Chicago. Josh sat on the panel, “You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right…to Blog?: A Legal and Ethical Primer to Sports Media in 2010.” Josh spoke on the issue of the blogger’s limited resources, in relation to those of more traditional media. He advised against “chasing rumors that may never see the light of day” and holding potentially rogue blogs accountable for their reporting. His curious summation of this strategy, “Laziness as a business model,” has been subject to misinterpretation.
In August of 2010, Josh was chosen as one of “12 digital influencers” to take part in a fantasy football league sponsored by P&G. The league’s draft was held at NFL headquarters in New York.
In September of 2011, Josh participated in a “Schlub to Swagger” makeover campaign with Van Heusen. Josh’s reveal happened at the kickoff party for “Blogs With Balls 4” in New York City, where he moderated a panel featuring NFL legend Deion Sanders. Josh also appeared in a six-page advertorial in the holiday issues of GQ and ESPN The Magazine.
Josh grew up in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Ohio State. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife.