Boselli misses out on hall of fame honor again

Former left tackle was a finalist for the 4th straight year

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli pushes Maa Tanuvasa of the Denver Broncos during a playoff game in 1998. (Stephen Dunn)

The wait continues for Tony Boselli.

Boselli was passed over by the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon in Miami, another agonizing finish for arguably the best player in Jaguars’ history.

Boselli, the first draft pick in Jacksonville history, manned the Jaguars’ left tackle spot from 1995 until 2001. He made the cut from 15 finalists to 10, but not from 10 to the final five needed for election.

Another player with area ties, Lee High graduate and longtime Packers safety LeRoy Butler, wasn’t elected to the hall of fame. This was Butler’s first year as one of the 15 finalists.

The knock on Boselli had never been his credentials. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time All-Pro.

What has kept Boselli out of the hall of fame was always his longevity.

He was one of the best tackles in football during his era but played in just 91 regular season games and six in the postseason. Boselli’s career essentially ended due to shoulder injuries in 2002 after being selected by the Texans in the expansion draft.

But the longevity knock doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, especially with recent inductees like running back Terrell Davis and safety Kenny Easley, both of whom had short careers. Davis played in 78 regular season games over seven years and Easley played in 89 over seven seasons.

Numerous players have had far shorter careers than Boselli and still been inducted. Boselli played more than double the games as Joe Guyon (46 games played) and nearly double as Fritz Pollard (49). They were inducted in 1966 and 2005, respectively.

The five players selected to the Hall of Fame Saturday included safeties Troy Polamalu and Steve Atwater, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, guard Steve Hutchinson, and running back Edgerrin James.

For Butler, who was a finalist for the first time, he’s likely going to have to wait a little bit longer for a legitimate shot at enshrinement. The former Lee High School star who played in high school for Corky Rogers and then went on to star at both Florida State and with the Packers, had 38 career interceptions and 889 career tackles.

For both Boselli and Butler, next year’s path to Canton, Ohio is far more difficult than this one.

The Class of 2021 is loaded, with quarterback Peyton Manning, cornerback Charles Woodson and receiver Calvin Johnson all eligible for the first time.

Longtime Jaguars running back Fred Taylor may begin drawing a more substantial look in the coming years.

Taylor’s 11,695 rushing yards rank 17th in NFL history and he was a first-time hall of fame semifinalist this year. Fourteen players ahead of Taylor are in the hall of fame, while two others (Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson) are currently still playing. The other in front of Taylor, Edgerrin James, was a finalist this year.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.