A.J. Francis, 309-pound Dolphins rookie, wants to show off his body


A.J. Francis, a 309-pound rookie defensive tackle on the Dolphins, has a problem with the ESPN the Magazine Body Issue: There aren’t any guys like him in it.

The Body Issue, which hit newsstands today, features athletes wearing nothing at all (but placing their hands or sports equipment in strategic places), and it serves as a celebration of athletic physiques: male and female, big and small, young and old. But Francis thinks the 300-plus-pound lineman is the one body type that the Body Issue is overlooking. And he took to Twitter to state his case.

“Hey ESPN you need a fat guy in the body issue,” Francis wrote. “I’m fat and sexy and I’m not alone in that. The world needs to accept me and my people.”

Francis, who says “I hate vegetables” in his Twitter bio, later called his tweets about wanting to be in the Body Issue “lame attempts at humor.” But I think Francis is absolutely right: A large percentage of NFL players are fat, and a magazine that wants to illustrate the types of bodies that can be found in the world of sports should include at least one of those players.

The ESPN the Magazine Body Issue is sometimes criticized as just a ripoff of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but I don’t agree with that criticism. To me, the Swimsuit Issue is an outdated relic of a time when the target audience of Sports Illustrated — men — wanted to see scantily clad women and didn’t have many opportunities. Subscribing to Sports Illustrated was a way for men to ensure that once a year, they’d get to see plenty of pictures of models in bikinis. But in 2013, when men can see all the skin they want at the click of a mouse, I’m not sure who the Swimsuit Issue appeals to anymore.

While the Swimsuit Issue is both pointless and utterly irrelevant to what is supposed to be the mission of Sports Illustrated — illustrating sports — ESPN’s Body Issue takes real athletes and shows what they really look like. Usually that means rippling muscles, but sometimes real athletes have rolls of fat. If Francis wants to show that off, more power to him.

27 responses to “A.J. Francis, 309-pound Dolphins rookie, wants to show off his body

  1. “The world needs to accept me and my people.” That’s a pretty good line…….. lol

  2. As a Maryland football fan, I can assure fans and the press in Miami that they are in for a real treat with A.J. He is hilarious and a great guy to interview/be around.

  3. Unfortunately for AJ, he does not realize that they are actually trying to sell magazines.

    While I do not hold it against him for being “portly” to say the least, that is really not an image most people want to view “willingly”.

    Having tremendous amounts of redundant protoplasm is not good for anybody.

    They could try to squeeze in a few heavyweights to the body issue but the heavyweights could try to mix in a few salads as well.

    In the end, I think the answer is easy …

    Uh … No!

  4. Why not a guy like Vince Wilfork? They say the issue is about celebrating the bodies of elite athletes… Wilfork is impressively athletic and certainly has a different body type than the typical athlete.

  5. As the father of a young girl, I definitely support the idea that people of a normal and healthy weight should be presented more in the media. However, that doesn’t mean that the “fat” body type should be presented as “beautiful.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great when people are self confident. I just don’t believe that pushing the standard of beauty to include a body type that includes inherent health risk is any better than pushing the pencil thin body type which includes inherent health risks. Showing attainable bodies achieved through healthy eating and reasonable levels of activity do more good because it sets an attainable goal.

    The “I hate vegetables”, bacon should be on everything, would you like fries with that mentality isn’t doing our kids any favors.

  6. Good luck with that. They won’t accept you. Even if you do feel good about your body and want to show it off.

    Andre Smith

  7. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has been targeting female readers for over a decade now. My girlfriend and her friends would always grab the magazine and look at the suits and all the ads. The magazine is about 3 times the size of the normal issue due to all the ads targeting women, not guys.

  8. Putting fat guys in the “Body” issue is the stupidest idea I’ve heard this week. If I want to see “rolls of fat,” I don’t need to pay for it, I can just look in the mirror.

  9. Does anyone actually care about ESPN the body? Maybe I’m alone in saying I don’t. By the way if I was Jesse Ventura, I’d be suing them by now.

  10. hawkstradamus says:
    Jul 12, 2013 9:58 AM
    I nominate Roy Nelson. Not a football player but a champion for all shirtless fat men.

    Oh ya… Big Country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I’m sure there is some medical journal that will run a story on diabetes and could use your picture as a warning Mr. Francis.

  12. dont want to see his nor any other filthy male athletes body. espn need to discontinue this practice. like to read the mag but would like to do so without seeing kupassnap the 40whiner savior. nfl teams adjust and will do so to him. ask cam newton.

  13. Yes get a bunch of these big guys and do a shoot. I would look at that! Yes that would be interesting. They should also explain how they got the body they have- it was years of work to be that big.

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