Throughout the 2010s, The Onion developed the character of "Mr. Autumn man:" a middle-aged New Englander who unabashedly loved flannel, fires, apple-picking, haunted hayrides, gourds, pumpkin-spiced coffee, and other autumnal pleasures.
According to Mel Magazine, the man in the photo is Erik Adams, the TV editor for the AV Club. The Onion had developed Mr. Autumn Man's character and needed an autumnally-dressed model, and a colleague pointed out that "that's how Erik Adams dresses every day. Like, we don't have to find somebody for this. Just go ask him to be in this photo."
When the article went viral, Adams became the face of fall-lovers everywhere. Now, his iconic picture is missing from the article.
G/O Media — the parent company that runs 11 websites, including the former Gawker Media properties Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Deadspin, The A.V. Club, The Onion, and Jezebel — has removed images from articles published before 2019, sources have confirmed to Gawker.Gawker
While the reasoning for the widespread image removal hasn't been explicitly announced, some suspect that the company wishes to protect itself from copyright infringement claims. The photo removal drastically changes the tone of certain articles in which the image drove the joke.