Behind The Scenes

Vince Wilfork bares all about ESPN The Mag Body Issue photo shoot

As ESPN the Magazine’s eighth annual Body Issue hits newsstands today, Front Row caught up with Houston Texans nose tackle, Vince Wilfork, one of the eight cover athletes making headlines this week.

What were your thoughts about the Body Issue before you were asked to participate?
I’ve always thought the Body issue was cool but never pictured myself doing it although every year my wife would say you should really do the Body issue. When it was presented to me, my wife was the one who actually told me they wanted me. Of course she was very happy; I needed to think about it. Showing my body doesn’t bother me, it never has but being 100% naked in front of a bunch of people. . . Well I had to think about that.

What was the most surprising aspect of the shoot?
ESPN did a great job of explaining to me in advance how the shoot would go, how they will minimize the amount of people who would actually see me in all my nakedness. I was hearing what they were saying but had my doubts. Once I got there the amount of professionalism and privacy they showed me was more than they promised.

What’s your favorite shot from your portfolio?
There is a shot that really stands out in my head, I looked like I was curled into a ball but it was a very strong picture. I was honestly blown away by all of the shots but right now that’s the one that stands out in my head.

What’s the reaction been among family, friends and teammates?
Everyone has been great now that it’s officially come out. No one knew about the shoot except for my wife and the people directly involved. This is the longest and biggest secret I’ve held on to. Once the news broke everyone has embraced it we will see how that goes now that the pictures are out. . .

The BIG Surprise
Additional insight on Wilfork shoot from ESPN contributor Stacey Pressman and photographer Peter Hapak:

Pressman: The key to making this shoot happen was approaching his wife Bianca first. I emailed her at the end of January – just a simple exchange about the Body Issue and would he ever consider it? She wrote back almost immediately and said that she loves the idea as it would “give them the opportunity to shed light on the issues they face due to his body.” That said she still made it clear that it would take a lot of convincing to get him to do it.

I think she spent a good amount of time discussing with him how this could be a good opportunity for them. It took about six weeks before I heard that he was fully on board. They wanted to shoot it the last possible date they could. I think just to give Vince some time to work out and process that he was actually doing this. Their only real concern was the number of people on set. They didn’t want a large crowd, which we understand. We closed the set. It was only Peter Hapak and Bianca who were there when the robe came off.

I learned after the shoot that they didn’t tell anyone he was doing this so it was a big surprise for his family and friends when the news broke!

Hapak: Vince was the biggest surprise to me, in every sense. He totally transformed in front of the camera and while I was shooting him I was amazed by his creative approaches! He was unstoppable! Best. Subject. Ever.

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