The Body Issue features athletes in different forms of nudity to “celebrate the athletic form”. ESPN released a series of covers Monday for its 10th anniversary issue, including one featuring Barkley. Barkley is the only active NFL player featured in this year’s Body Issue and the first Giant since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.
Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, said the opportunity to be featured in the Body Issue “means everything”.
“I strongly believe that your body is your temple,” Barkley said in an interview that accompanied his layout. “I’m very confident in my body and I love my body, because I worked so hard on it.”
Barkley also discussed how he began to take weight training more seriously while a sophomore in high school. He also talked about becoming a viral sensation inside Penn State’s weight room.
“I kind of felt like I was under-recruited (out of Whitehall High School in Whitehall Township, PA) and I wasn’t getting the recognition of other guys, and I felt like I was one of the best in my draft class,” Barkley said. “The thing I put in my head right now is myself. Competing with myself to be elite and trying to be the best I can.”
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Joining Barkley in this year’s Body Issue are Seattle Storm forward Sue Bird, Olympic gold medal sprinter Tori Bowie, professional softball player Lauren Chamberlain, U.S. soccer national team and North Carolina Courage forward Crystal Dunn, WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair, LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Kuechel, Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, U.S. soccer national team and Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe, Olympic bronze medal figure skater Adam Rippon, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Body Issue will be on newsstands June 29.