If there’s one magazine that knows how to bruise your ego it’s ESPN The Magazine’s BODY Issue.
For eight years the magazine has reminded the average viewer that they should probably hit the gym and lay off the carbs by featuring dozens of powerful athletes in nude and semi-nude photographs. On Monday, the magazine announced the 23 illustrious athletes who will be featured in this years ninth edition – and it’s pretty damn good.
The face of the magazine will be the Dallas Cowboys 21-year-old running back Ezekiel Elliot, The Washington Post reported. The athlete, who had a dynamite rookie year with 1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, is posed nude with his knee pulled up toward his chest and a football in arm. Ezekiel’s physique is complimented by the water laminating his strong build.
“I don’t know if people really understand how much work we put into our craft,” Elliot told ESPN reporter Morty Ain. “We play such a brutal game. Working out by itself is a hard task, but keeping our body together is tough because we play this brutal sport week in and week out.”
The magazine, which aims to “celebrate and showcase the athletic form through powerful images and interviews” has a rockstar line up this year and I’ve decided to create a definitive top 10 list of who readers should be most excited to see in this issue.
- A power couple in the world of sports, U.S. women’s soccer team player Julie Johnston Ertz and her pro football playing husband, Zach Ertz, are sure to have a steamy feature in the magazine.
- Novlene Williams-Mills, the four-time Olympic medalist for Jamaica’s track and field team, will be the first breast cancer survivor to appear in the issue.
- Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez will be naked, both literally and figuratively. Baez is using his feature to share the story behind the tattoo dedicated to his sister who passed away in 2015, Chicago Sun-Times reported.
- Kirstie Ennis will become the first veteran in the BODY Issue. Ennis is a Marine Corps Sgt. turned adaptive snowboarder/mountaineer. The veteran who dodged death by a hair is now ranked fifth internationally for women’s Paralympic snowboarding, ABC News reported.
- Two-time NBA all-star Isaiah Thomas will pose sporting nothing but a basketball and a green sweatband around the head. The Boston Celtics point guard uses his piece to talk about overcoming adversity. “If people don’t believe in me, I make them believers,” he told ESPN.
- The New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman will pose naked while taking a bite of a massive cheeseburger, claiming that “one burger a day keeps the conditioning away,” 247Sports reported.
- Brent Burns and Joe Thornton are shot facing-off with nothing but their hockey sticks. The NHL San Jose Sharks teammates joked in a tweet that this isn’t the first time this has happened.
— jason demers (@jasondemers5) June 25, 2017
- Pro softball player A.J. Andrews is going to be the first female athlete to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award to appear in the issue.
- Mixed martial artist and UFC competitor Michelle Waterson will be wielding two samurai swords in her nude shots in the magazine. You don’t want to mess with the seventh ranked UFC fighter.
- Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish pro tennis player who was won 25 WTA singles titles, is no stranger to photoshoots. The athlete has been featured in previous Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions and will now be featured in the 2017 BODY Issue.
Also included in the latest issue are six members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team. Among those are the following: Brianna Decker, Kacey Bellamy, Meghan Duggan, identical twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Alex Rigsby.
The final four athletes included in the 2017 edition are Ashley Wagner, the figure skating Olympic bronze medalist, Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks, Gus Kenworthy, the freestyle skiing Olympic silver medalist and Malakai Fekitoa, the rugby player for the New Zealand All Blacks.
The issue will debut on ESPN.com on July 5 and be available in print on July 7.