New Hall of Famer Tony Boselli relishes time to give back

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, right, poses with students from Matthew Gilbert Middle School at Academy Sports + Outdoors on Atlantic Blvd. on Tuesday. (Justin Barney, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s been a little over a month since the Pro Football Hall of Fame call came in for Tony Boselli.

The biggest change for the former Jaguars offensive tackle in the time since.

“I guess people pay me more for my autograph,” Boselli joked on Tuesday morning. “But I just try to try to take it in stride a little bit.”

Boselli has always been a big name and a big figure in the Jacksonville area.

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The first draft pick of the expansion Jaguars in 1995, Boselli played seven years in the NFL before shoulder injuries forced his early retirement and stuck his Hall of Fame candidacy in neutral. Boselli made ground in the 16 years of his Hall eligibility, moving from semifinalist to an eventual first-time finalist in 2017.

But it took far longer to make the cut down to the final five needed for enshrinement into Canton, a process that Boselli said that both wore on him and gave him profound appreciation on just what it meant to make the Hall. He and Jacksonville native LeRoy Butler will be enshrined in August.

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“I always respected the process and not once did I ever think that the years I was a finalist and didn’t get in that someone got in that didn’t deserve to be. I think you get to that stage, you get to a finalist, it’s hard,” Boselli said. “I think it’s one of the harder things to do. I’ve talked to the voters all the time and say, I don’t know how you, how do you distinguish between one great player, another great player and to make that decision who gets in the hall of fame or not.

“I’m glad it’s over. As much as I appreciate the process, I think I’d had my fill of being a finalist six years and I’m glad I’m part of the Hall of Fame now.”

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On Tuesday morning, Boselli was the featured guest at Academy Sports as he presented $100 gift cards to 28 local athletes from Matthew Gilbert Middle School. The students shopped freely in the store, with some trying on pairs of Nikes and others having their pick of soccer and volleyballs.

Boselli walked the aisles with students, answered questions and gave suggestions on purchases.

“They look at me like they don’t care about the hall of fame, they don’t even know who the heck I am probably, half the time,” Boselli said. “They know I played with the Jaguars and I’m really big.”

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.