ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue is always a big draw for the same reason that the Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition is: beautiful naked people. Obviously. The difference is that in the Swimsuit Edition, you get one gender and one body type.
It features women who are generally 125 lbs or less, 5’9″ or taller and have small to medium-size boobs. If you’ve seen one Sports Illustrated Edition, you’ve seen them all. Not that the women aren’t incredibly gorgeous, because they most certainly are. But the Body Issue is great because it showcases all kinds of body types, reminding us that even professional athletes are built in unique ways.
That’s what’s so bad ass about the announcement that NFL nose tackle Vince Wilfork will be featured in the Body Issue’s starting lineup this year. Wilfork’s size and athleticism has been marveled at for years by NFL fans and followers who have seen the 325 lb. two-time Super Bowl champion leap for interceptions and run a breathtaking 5.08 40-yard dash. He’s a truly noteworthy athlete that deserves to be profiled for the work he’s put into remaining at the top of his game while also being absolutely massive, so don’t misunderstand my enthusiasm for Wilfork’s inclusion in the issue as some kind of celebrating of husky men.
Sure, husky men are awesome but that’s not what we’re talking about here. This isn’t some kind of “everyone is beautiful if they love their body and they are healthy” diatribes. Here’s a quick little illustration of what I mean by that:
Of course Wilfork was humble in his statement to ESPN about appearing in the issue.
“I know I don’t have the six-packs and the eight-packs and all that … but I’m perfectly fine with what I am. If people can look at me, look at a guy that’s 325-plus doing an issue like this, I’m pretty sure that they might have a little confidence after seeing that it’s okay to be who you are.”
Setting his modesty aside, the reality is that Vince Wilfork is no fat guy. He’s played a major role in changing the expectations of the modern interior defensive lineman int he NFL, and readers should be genuinely intrigued by what he’s done to maintain himself for twelve brutal NFL seasons.
The bodies in The Body Issue are almost unrealistic as the ones in the Swimsuit Edition. They don’t represent the average American, and they aren’t easily achievable physiques. The featured athletes are generally paid a lot of money to compete in a sport that they love, and they dedicate themselves to being the most fit people on the planet in order to achieve success in their work. Most of us will never have access to the types of trainers, facilities, nutritionists and conditioning that these athletes do; nor do we have the time available to put into such a fitness regime.
Some of the other athletes you may have heard of that will be stripping down to their birthday suits are MLB pitcher Jake Arrieta, NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Olympic diving phenom Greg Louganis, MMA star Conor McGregor, legendary Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and World Cup-winning soccer player Christen Press.
That’s quite a roster, and also why it will be great to get an athlete like Wilfork in the mix; because he’s a remarkable competitor. He’s singular and particular, which is exactly what makes the Body Issue so compelling. Generally none of the twenty-something athletes ever even physically resemble each other once they are stripped down, so there is so much more intrigue and more to learn about what makes our favorite superstars so powerful, strong and downright sexy.
Speaking of sexy, here are a few more photos of the physical specimen of Vince Wilfork in his natural habitat, in case you want to get yourself amped up.