The release of ESPN: The Magazine's annual Body Issue always creates a pretty substantial buzz. Which is completely expected when you combine two such beloved things: sexy professional athletes and nudity.
And because this has become such a cherished annual event, I decided to get a head start for the 2013 issue. ESPN has a lot of their plate and probably won't get back to this for a couple of months, so I don't mind doing some of the leg work.
I also wouldn't mind them cutting me a check for all this pro bono work I do for them. But whatever, that's another matter for another time.
Let's take a look at 20 athletes (actually, it's more like 24...you'll see) who should be on the shortlist for next year's issue!
ESPN has a blonde female surfer included every year, so it's safe to say that trend will continue in 2013. Platinum blonde Aussie surfer Laura Enever obviously fits the bill physically, but she's also one helluva a surfer.
In 2011, SurferMag online named Enever the seventh-best female surfer in the world—and that wasn't out of 10—out of 100.
Is it just me, or has ESPN had a major quarterback drought in their Body Issue? That was a rhetorical question because I am already well aware that the answer is a resounding "Yes!" Since they're already at a deficit, the best way to move forward is to kill two birds with one stone.
The Jets' quarterback tandem of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow have been one of the most buzzed-about stories of the offseason. And they'll be one of the most buzzed-about stories of the regular season. And then they'll be one of the most buzzed-about stories of next offseason.
Whatever Sanchize and Lord Tebow don't settle on the field, they can settle mostly naked in a magazine.
Obviously recognizing the ever-growing popularity of the sport, ESPN featured MMA fighter Ronda Rousey in the 2012 Body Issue and has featured fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano in the past.
Michelle Gutierrez is a former professional boxer who has been making a name for herself in MMA. She won three straight fights before losing by unanimous decision in April 2012.
Not that a couple of losses lessens her appeal.
It feels so weird talking about a Pittsburgh Pirate in anything that isn't the butt of a joke, but it looks like the tide might be turning for baseball fans in the Steel City. First standout star Andrew McCutchen gets named to the All-Star team two years in a row and gets chosen to compete in the home run derby!
And now I'm naming him to a completely arbitrary list of hot athletes I think ESPN should ask to take their clothes off! Although, anyone can make a couple of All-Star games, but it's not every day I take a break from hating on my hometown Pirates.
So, obviously, being named to this list is the bigger achievement. You're welcome, Pittsburgh.
I don't think Denmark's delightful Caroline Wozniacki gets enough attention. Wozniacki is gorgeous, talented, charming and pretty hilarious—remember her ribbing Rafael Nadal's over-the-top crampy press conference? Comedy gold.
Maria Sharapova and much of the old tennis guard is on the way down and/or out, but Wozniacki is on the rise. I just hope if ESPN takes my advice on this and that they don't invite her boyfriend, Rory McIlroy, to come along.
Like I said, and we all know, MMA's popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, and Chael Sonnen is one of the most recognizable fighters in the sport. Sonnen is usually recognized for bad things, like picking on Arianny Celeste and ill-advised political campaigns that end under mysterious circumstances.
More recently, the bad thing Sonnen's recognized for is losing his UFC rematch with Anderson Silva, in what was billed as the biggest fight in the sport's history. And let me add, as someone who watched the fight, it was absolutely brutal.
Sonnen is now "appealing his loss," but that isn't going to end well, either. Which is why ESPN should invite him to be in the Body Issue next year—he needs some good press.
Perhaps the summer Olympians will be old news by this time next year, but if Sanya Richards-Ross adds to her three Olympic medals in London, I think she would be worth bringing back for an encore.
She's actually married to Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross, so perhaps they could bare it all together.
There are actually four Staal brothers playing professional hockey, but Jared, the baby of the family, is still making his way through the AHL. This photo won't be taken for almost a year, so he's welcome to join brothers Eric, Marc and Jordan if he makes it to the NHL by then.
Not that you have to be in the NHL to be featured in the Body Issue. I just don't think it'd be fair to let Jared jump the line if he hasn't earned his spot.
Also, I don't think that these guys are really all that hot—it's just that four blonde hockey-playing brothers just seem like a natural fit.
ESPN manages to find a sexy female golfer I've never heard of before and haven't heard of since to include in each Body Issue. I'm not really into ladies golf, but I've always been pleased with their decisions.
English golfer Danielle Montgomery may or may not be a great golfer—I have no idea. But she was recently voted by fans as the best-dressed player at the Ladies European Tour Championship in China.
Next year she could be voted the best undressed player. Hiyoo!
ESPN has featured a number of NBA players over the years. Magic super-baby Dwight Howard, Knicks stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler and Clippers superstar Blake Griffin have all graced the hallowed pages.
I think it's time the Body Issue got bigger, meaner and balder. Celtics big man Kevin Garnett usually inspires pretty strong feelings from fans, which means he'd be perfect!
Plus, I like my men like I like my pieces of cake—BIG.
U.S. women's soccer stars like Heather Mitts and Hope Solo have already had their moments to shine. Even the always adorable Alex Morgan seems to be up in my face 24/7 these days.
ESPN should go with a fresh face in 2013, and there is no face fresher than that of Ms. Sydney Leroux. She's gonna be the next big thing, fellas.
Normally, I don't go for pretty-boy blondes. Particularly, the ones that clearly spend more than an hour in the bathroom getting ready and spend their weekends shopping with bitchy diva Sean Avery.
Rangers gorgeous goalie Henrik Lundqvist is the exception to that rule. Lundqvist is just one of the most delicious men in professional sports, and the fact that he has yet to be featured in the Body Issue is nothing short of a travesty.
When will ESPN finally rectify this wrong?
Jennifer Kessy and her beach volleyball partner, April Ross, are going to be challenging fellow Americans, and two-time Olympic gold medal-winning duo, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor at the London Olympics in 2012.
It doesn't really matter who wins, because we're all winners when beach volleyball is being played. But it's Kessy that seems to be attracting all the attention right now, having been signed as a Cover Girl.
And the same goes for us all being winners if Ms. Kessy is featured in the Body Issue next year. She's great and I vote for more.
Swimmer Cullen Jones is the only male Olympian who made the list, and I admit that it was for purely superficial reasons. His Olympic record is modest, but I really don't care.
Even if Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte win every single race in London and Cullen trips into the water and throws up during his…I'd still be firm in this decision.
Why have just one gorgeous surfer when you can have two? Coco Ho isn't just a pretty face and a top-notch surfing talent, either. She's also the niece of the legionary Hawaiian singer Don Ho, which is a pretty big deal.
Trust me on that one; I lived in Hawaii for a full year. That basically makes Coco Ho the queen of Hawaii. ESPN should be jumping at the opportunity to have American royalty in the Body Issue.
Oh, and she was named the No. 4 female surfer in the world, according to SurferMag's 2011 rankings.
I'm not sure how WWE fans are going to react to this. On one hand, I feel like they are going to be pretty happy to see me finally showing some love to the WWE's World Heavyweight Champion. CM Punk is, quite simply, both the kit as well as the kaboodle.
On the other hand, I feel like they might be a little salty at me for only recognizing him for the superficial. But they shouldn't be. I love CM Punk for his body and mind. it's just that I want to see his body in the Body Issue, rocking nothing but those tattoos and a scowl.
Remembering all that Nastia Liukin accomplished at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing made her performance at the 2012 Olympic trials all the more shocking. Liukin fell on every apparatus and ended her career with a full-body face-plant on the uneven bars—always her strongest event.
Liukin may be gone from the Olympic team, but she won't soon be forgotten. Closing out her career like that was a nightmare, and an Alicia Sacramone-style spread in the Body Issue would cleanse that palate.
For all of us.
I've already pointed out the quarterback drought, but obviously I didn't think that Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow were the most preferable way to end that drought. I just thought it'd be funny to pit them against each other again and cause Jets fans a little more emotional pain.
Cam Newton, the Panthers' rookie sensation better known as Superman, is long overdue for a spot in the Body Issue, and he's only played one season. That's a pretty impressive feat—even for Superman.
Come on, ESPN, get it together.
Italian adrenaline junkie Roberta Mancino engages in more death-defying activities on her day off than most of us will in our entire lives. Seriously, this woman thinks that swimming with tiger sharks is a nice, calm afternoon.
Mancino also happens to be one of the hottest women on the planet. And Men's Fitness agrees with me—they named her the World's Sexiest Female Athlete in 2010. Mancino has also been featured in Vanity Fair, Allure, Maxim and Men's Health.
So ESPN is just a little behind the story…as usual.
Snowboarder Chanelle Sladics is actually only a part-time snowboarder. She's also a Yogaworks certified Yogi (I have no idea), a dreamer, a cook, a gardener, an artist, a tree-hugger and a skater of some sort.
Sladics is also stunning, in case you hadn't noticed. And that whole tree-hugger thing makes me think she'd be down to bare it all in a scenic locale.
Hot girls in the middle of nowhere! (s/o to The Chive!)