JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The first draft pick in Jaguars history has notched another first — Tony Boselli is heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After six seasons as a finalist, Boselli was elected to the Hall of Fame and becomes the first Jaguars player heading to Canton.
All the buzz about not playing long enough because of injuries or having the misfortune of playing for the small-market Jaguars didn’t resonate with voters this year.
He’s in. He’s finally in.
“To be able to represent that organization, since I got drafted there in ‘95 as the first pick and now going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is something that I’m proud of, I take it seriously, representing the organization, and it’s something I love,” Boselli said. “And people ask me all the time, you know, do you wish you to gone to the Packers or the Patriots, these great historic franchises, and I said, I’m good with the Jaguars. I’m good.”
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Boselli goes in to the Hall of Fame with another area representative, Lee High School and Florida State product LeRoy Butler. The Green Bay Packers star spent 12 seasons in the NFL and was the final remaining member of the 1990s All-Decade team to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
While Packers players dot the walls of Canton, there had been no sighting of a Jaguars player anywhere.
Boselli changes that.
“Tony’s well-deserved selection for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is long overdue and one of the greatest moments in the history of our franchise,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said. “Tony embraced being a Jaguar from the moment he was drafted and from there fought for Jacksonville as one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play the game.
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“Tony has also represented the Jaguars with class since the day he arrived. Beyond his exceptional on-field performance, since retirement he has been an integral member of the Jaguars family while calling Jacksonville home for more than 25 years. No one understands, defends, supports or loves the Jaguars and Duval like Tony Boselli. I think I speak for everyone when I say congratulations, Tony. Gold looks good on you.”
With his selection, the Jaguars become the last NFL team to have a player elected to the Hall of Fame. Newer teams like the Texans (Ed Reed) and Panthers (Kevin Greene, Reggie White, Sam Mills) even had players who spent time with them make Canton.
It put an end to the annual speculation if this would really be the year for Boselli. The ‘will he or won’t he’ question had become an annual rollercoaster for Boselli, whose candidacy had grown stronger in recent years. But it was often a numbers game for Boselli. Surefire picks like Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Calvin Johnson clogged up the voting docket over the last three years.
First Jag in the HOF - Congrats! So awesome @TonyBoselli https://t.co/uptDJMR42J— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) February 11, 2022
This year was different.
Boselli was one of just two offensive linemen on the final ballot (Willie Anderson was the other) and had momentum among the voters.
Boselli, who was selected No. 2 overall in the 1995 draft out of Southern Cal for the expansion Jaguars, played left tackle for the team until 2001. The knock on Boselli’s candidacy was never his production, it was a shortened resume.
So happy for Tony Boselli being inducted into the @ProFootballHOF he will represent the @Jaguars in Bronze forever #MuchRespect 🙌🏾— Calais Campbell (@CalaisCampbell) February 11, 2022
Boselli was a five-time Pro Bowl pick and a three-time All-Pro selection. He protected quarterback Mark Brunell and helped open holes for Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist Fred Taylor. Boselli was on two Jaguars teams that played for AFC championships (1996, ‘99) and he’s regarded as the best player in franchise history.
Shoulder injuries cut his career short.
Boselli played 91 regular season games and six in the playoffs with Jacksonville. He was left unprotected by the team in the 2002 expansion draft and was picked No. 1 overall by the Texans. Boselli never played a down with Houston and retired that year.
“If I have any regrets of looking back is I probably took a little bit for granted. Because you think, you play the game. You know, it’s going to be there, and I’ll go play 15 years I’ll retire when I’m done,” he said. “And this game is unforgiving in that manner. So enjoy it. Because you never know when it might be the last time, It’s a great game. I love it.”
“If you faced this man on the offensive line, you knew he was destined for Canton.”— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) February 11, 2022
Bruce Smith introduces @TonyBoselli at the #NFLHonors. pic.twitter.com/D9RMqZgAfZ
The lack of a lengthy playing career provided good debate, but it doesn’t translate for a good slice of Hall of Fame inductees. A total of 28 players who have been enshrined in Canton played fewer games than Boselli, some significantly fewer (1966 inductee Joe Guyon played the fewest games at 46).
Broncos running back Terrell Davis was the best modern era example, playing in just 78 regular season games. Davis was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time first-team All-Pro. Davis played in 16 regular season games just two times in his career, although was a two-time offensive player of the year and the 1998 MVP.
@TonyBoselli finally home!! #HOF2022— Fred Taylor (@FredTaylorMade) February 11, 2022