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Former Jaguar Tony Boselli among Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists

Jacksonville natives Leroy Butler and Brian Dawkins also named semifinalists

Tony played in 91 games in the NFL over seven seasons. Three times he played in all 16 games and once 15. He played 13 games his rookie year, starting 12.
Tony played in 91 games in the NFL over seven seasons. Three times he played in all 16 games and once 15. He played 13 games his rookie year, starting 12. (Photo by Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the third consecutive year, former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli is among the 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

From an original list of 108 eligible players, Boselli joins Jacksonville natives Leroy Butler and Brian Dawkins, along with Georgia’s Hines Ward, among those the Hall of Fame's selection committee will consider on the next ballot. Generally, the semifinal list has 25 names, but because of ties, this year’s list has 27. Fifteen players and coaches will be considered for selection to the Hall during the Super Bowl weekend in Minnesota on Feb. 3. 

“I’m not going to get any better than I was,” Boselli said with a laugh Tuesday night about his candidacy for the Hall. “The hay’s in the barn. My play’s on tape. It’s up to people like you (I’m on the PFHOF Selection Committee representing Jacksonville) to make a decision. There are 25 other really good football players on that list.”

Last year, the Selection Committee elected both Kenny Easley and Terrell Davis to the Hall despite the brevity of their careers. Both played less than 70 games in the NFL. Boselli’s career was considered short but he played in 97 NFL games. By comparison, iconic NFL legend Paul Hornung played in 105 games.

“There’s times I feel like, not that I got cheated, but I’d have liked to have played more,” Boselli added. “Don’t get me wrong. If God had come down and said, ‘You’ll play in 97 games, take it or leave it,’ I’d have taken it and run with it. But you feel like, ‘Man I wish I could have done it a little bit longer.'”

In his third year as a semifinalist, Boselli will get serious consideration from the Selection Committee. Last year, he was among the final 10 chosen. His quality of play is unquestioned and, even he admits, at this point of the process, it can be a numbers game.

“They’re all great players,” he said. “When you get to the final 15, every one of those guys can make an argument that they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Among the 108 original, eligible players, only five can be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

After his high school career at Raines, Dawkins played college football at Clemson University. He was a second round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles and spent most of his career there. He finished with three years in Denver. Dawkins made nine Pro Bowl’s in his career, finishing with 37 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries and 37 interceptions. He made his one Super Bowl appearance for the Eagles here in his hometown of Jacksonville. The game ended in a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots. It’s Dawkins second appearance on the HOF ballot as a semifinalist.

In his first appearance as a semifinalist, Butler gives Jacksonville three players among the final 27.  Butler played for Corky Rogers at Lee High School before going to Florida State University. He’s famous for the “puntrooskie” against Clemson, in which he ran 78 yards to set up the winning field goal. He was selected in the second round of the 1990 draft by the Packers and was a member of the winning Super Bowl XXXI team. He was four times an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection as well as a member of the 1990’s NFL All-Decade team. He’s also remembered in Green Bay as the inventor of the “Lambeau Leap.” Butler finished his career with 38 interceptions. 

First-time eligibles Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, Brian Urlacher, Rhonde Barber and Steve Hutchinson are included in this year’s semifinalists. As mentioned, it’s the first semifinalist appearance for Butler as well as Leslie O’Neal, Simeon Rice and Everson Walls.

Making multiple appearances as semifinalists are Isaac Bruce, Don Coryell, Roger Craig, Alan Faneca, Torry Holt, Joe Jacoby, Edgerrin James, Jimmy Johnson, Ty Law, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae, Karl Mecklenburg, Terrell Owens and Hines Ward.

Former Jaguars Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor were among the 108 eligible players but did not make the semifinal list. 

The Class of 2018 semifinalists includes 25 players -- 12 on offense (RB=2; WR=5; OL=5), 13 on defense (DL=3; LB=3; DB=7) and two coaches.

To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must not have participated as an active player or coach for five consecutive seasons.

The next step in the selection process comes in January, when the semifinalists are trimmed to 15 Modern-Era Finalists. That list increases to 18 finalists with the inclusion of the recommended nominees of the Hall of Fame's Contributors and Seniors Committees. The 2018 Contributor Finalist is former General Manager/Personnel Administrator Bobby Beathard, of the 1966-67 Kansas City Chiefs, 1968-1971 Atlanta Falcons, 1972-77 Miami Dolphins, 1978-1988 Washington Redskins and 1990-99 San Diego Chargers. The two Senior Finalists are Robert Brazile (LB - 1975-1984 Houston Oilers) and Jerry Kramer (G -- 1958-1968 Green Bay Packers).