There was a lot of back and forth as to whether Texas running back Arian Foster would pose with a unicorn but in the end he showed up and brought just the right mix of amusement and annoyance, making this a truly memorable cover.
The issue has a special section on Fantasy Football so the creative team over at ESPN thought that it would be funny, and genuinely surprising, to put a disgruntled high-ranking football player in an extreme “fantasy” situation. Arian Foster has amongst the high stats in Fantasy Football but finds the whole thing a big distraction and at times dehumanizing (see his on-set interview about it here).
It was a complicated shoot with a lot of moving parts but the ESPN team was unified and determined. The approach was conceived by John Korpics and brought to life by Photo Editor Stephanie Weed, and Director of Photography Karen Frank. The set build is by John Geary, and the animal wrangling by Gentle Jungle.
My one disappointment is that they didn’t go for my idea of a simple portrait of him holding hands with a gnome.