JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tony Boselli has been here before.
For the fifth time, the former Jaguars all-pro tackle is among the final 15 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Will this be the year? Nobody can say as of yet, but Boselli says the experiences he has gained over the past four times as a finalist have changed the way he will approach the next month.
“I don’t take it for granted, ever,” Boselli said. “It’s an honor in itself to get this far. And to be one of the top 15 guys to be considered for the Hall of Fame again … obviously, all of us want to be one of the final five that ended up going to Canton. But it’s pretty competitive. And there’s a lot of great players on this list.”
The list includes at least two shoo-in candidates who are eligible for the first time this year: former Colts’ and Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning and Raiders’ and Packers’ defensive back Charles Woodson.
The other first-time candidates include former Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson and former defensive end Jared Allen, who played for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears and Panthers during his career.
But for the sake of argument, let’s assume Manning and Woodson have spots locked up. Where does that leave Boselli?
“So, that’s three places for 13 other guys figure it out,” Boselli said. “And all the guys on that list have, you know, great credentials, and you can argue for every one of them to get into the whole thing.”
The field includes former Lee High School and Florida State star LeRoy Butler, who played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. Like Boselli, he was a member of the NFL’s all-decade team of the 1990s.
“Go watch LeRoy Butler play football and go look what he did for the Green Bay Packers,” Boselli said. “And I think you have a hard time arguing he’s not one of the greatest safeties ever play the game. And you just go down the list of guys like that, that are on this list.”
It could come down to a decision by the selectors between Boselli and another offensive lineman, former Steelers, Jets’ and Cardinals’ guard Alan Faneca, a nine-time Pro Bowl pick.
“Alan Faneca was a Pro Bowler, almost every year, a bunch of All-Pros. He is one of the great guards, played for the Steelers, all kinds of success, won championships,” Boselli said. “So, it’s hard to argue that he’s not a Hall of Famer, too. It’s tough to these 48 voters, you start looking around saying, ‘OK, we have to tell 10 guys, who were some of the best players that will play this game, that they either have to wait or they’re not going to get in.’ And so that’s where it becomes really tough on the voters.”
If Boselli is among the final five selected for induction in Canton, it will be part of a month of growing optimism among Jaguars fans. It would be an honor anytime for Boselli to be selected, but this year might feel extra special.
“This has been a tough year, 2020, for a lot of people. Forget sports for a second,” Boselli said. “And then you put on top of your Jaguar fan, you don’t want to go 1-15, losing 15 straight games and going through the process of, ‘Here we go again,’ It’s no fun. So, you kind of put all that together. I’m excited for 2021 and I can’t think of a better way for the Boselli family to kick off 2021 than to be invited to be part of the Hall of Fame.”