(Tony Boselli photos courtesy of the Jacksonville Jaguars)
Talk of Fame Network
It’s hard to believe that 13 years after retiring from the NFL, former Jacksonville tackle Tony Boselli made the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame's list of semifinalists – meaning the cut to 25 – for the first time.
Well, believe it.
Before his career was cut short by injury, Boselli was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro and so outstanding that he was named to the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s all-decade team for the 1990s. Yet he never made the list of semifinalists until last month.
An oversight? No question. And a big deal? Well, to Boselli it should be. And, as he told The Talk of Fame Network on its latest broadcast, it is.
“It’s a big deal in the sense that it’s nice to be recognized for what you did,” he said. “It’s been a while since I played … (so) for this to happen at this time it’s fun because people start talking about your playing days again and saying kind things. So that always feels good. My family’s pretty excited. My kids thought it was pretty cool. So it’s been fun overall.”
Though Boselli won’t admit it, his failure to make the first cut until this year is perplexing. Willie Roaf was an all-decade choice from the 1990s, and he’s in the Hall. Gary Zimmerman was an all-decade choice from that era, and he’s in Canton, too. But Boselli? It’s not just that he can’t get into Canton; it’s that he can’t get in the room for discussion as a finalist.
“I try not to think about it too much because I don’t have any control over it,” he said. “I played the game to the best of my ability. And when I was playing I did it at the highest level I possibly could. So after that it’s really not up to me anymore. It’s the voters and different people who sit back and judge us as players and decide how we played and if we deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
“If I thought about it too much it’d probably bother me more to be honest with you. I guess I try not to spend too much time thinking about it.”
But we do. There’s been a run of left tackles lately to Canton, including Roaf, Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones – with former Rams’ standout Orlando Pace a favorite to make it in 2016. The obvious question, then, is: What, other than longevity, did they have that Tony Boselli did not?
So we put it to Boselli, even though he was reluctant to answer.
“I don’t like talking about myself much,” he said. “I deemed myself -- when I was playing the position --the best … or one of the best. I felt like when I stepped on the field I could block anybody. Not that there weren’t tough days out there because you play against other great players. But as I watched tape, and as I watched other people play, I felt like I was … if not the best, one of the best at what I did.
“Fortunately I was honored by my peers. I was honored by the writers … three-time All Pro. And I was honored by the (NFL) alumni with Offensive Lineman of the Year. All of us played together … the guys you mentioned … and I respected their games. I thought they were great players – Jonathan Ogden and Willie Roaf and Walter Jones. The guys who are in the Hall of Fame are great players. But I felt like, when I played, I was right there with them.”