Talk of Fame Network
A year ago, former Jacksonville tackle Tony Boselli became a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist for the first time. This year he's a Hall-of-Fame finalist for the first time.
"It sure is an honor to get this far," he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
But getting this far is one thing. Going from the top 15 to one of the five inductees is something altogether different, and it's one that could be difficult for Boselli … even though left tackles have been chosen four of the past five seasons.
Look, we know Boselli is qualified. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, a three-time All-Pro and an all-decade choice. But we also know his career was cut short by injuries, with Boselli bowing out after seven seasons. That can make the choice hard, and Boselli knows it.
So we asked him what, if anything, he could tell voters that they may not know to sway them in his direction.
"I'm not a very good dancer," he said, laughing. "For some reason, I have good feet, but I couldn't dance. In the system we played in … and it was an honor for me and it was a big responsibility … they trusted me. In our system we didn’t slide (the protection), and we didn’t help the tackles much. And I was asked to go one-on-one with whoever the defensive end was. It didn’t matter if it was Bruce Smith or Derrick Thomas or anything else.
"There might be certain plays where we do different things, but, for the most part, we were more of an old-school offense – a lot of five and seven-step drops – and we had some great receivers outside. So there was a lot of pressure on the tackles, both on myself and Leon Searcy, the right tackle.
"One of the things that a lot of people don’t talk about is .. we were pretty good at run blocking. Go look at our years. We ran the ball very well, and we were one of the top rush teams in the NFL. Everybody talked about how well I pass blocked. I thought I was a pretty decent run blocker as well.
"There is nothing that I dislike more than talking about myself and my game, but I tried to go out there and play the game as hard as I could. And I tried to play physical. I was taught that at USC (his alma mater) from some great coaches. I just thought that was the way (the game) was to be played. To be as physical as possible and finish every play of every game. That’s kind of how I approached it, and it worked for most of the time."
The problem, of course, for Boselli ,.. as there is for any offensive lineman ... is there aren't statistics that can help swing voters in their decisions. There are for quarterbacks, running backs, pass rushers, defensive backs, you name it… but not for offensive linemen. But while that complicates the decision, Boselli said he's willing "to trust the process" because ... well, because he has no other choice.
"I did everything I could, and I can do nothing else," he said. "I played the game to the best of my ability, went out there and competed, blocked some of the best defensive ends to ever play the game, had a lot of fun doing it and was on some really good teams.
"My career got cut short. It is what it is. I have no control over that. That’s not for me to decide. I did what I could. I really trust the process. And I can say that honestly. I trust the 48 guys who are in that room to decide whether I am Hall-of-Fame worthy or not."
(Tony Boselli photos courtesy of the Jacksonville Jaguars)