Former NFL tackle Tony Boselli became the first Jacksonville Jaguars player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. This is his acceptance speech.
This is amazing. Thank you, Mark. What a great friend. I can’t imagine being in better company as a member of the Class of 2022. Offense, defense, coaching and even officiating - my class has it all. To the families of Cliff Branch and Sam Mills, and to Art McNally who is at home, Richard Seymour, Dick Vermeil, Bryant Young and Jacksonville’s own, my Duval brother LeRoy Butler, I am honored to call you guys family.
There is nothing more important. There is nothing more powerful. The support and love of my family, in all of its forms and throughout my 50 years, is why I am here today – as the first Jacksonville Jaguar to be welcomed as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is a profound honor, and I thank the Hall for the privilege, and I thank you for allowing me to be your teammates.
I was born on April 17, 1972 - Don Bosco Anthony Boselli, Junior. The first child born to Big Tony, that makes me little Tony, my dad was about six-foot tall, and Candy Boselli. From there, our family would grow and evolve. I would become big brother to Jennifer, Michael, I know you’re watching brother, Liz and Lauren. Growing up, my siblings taught me a valuable lesson … it wasn’t all about me.
Our childhood was joyous, despite our parents divorcing before we were teens. As far as mom and dad were concerned, to divorce was never meant to divide. Both would find new and beautiful people in their lives – my Dad would marry Carla, and my Mom would marry Fred – resulting in an extended and harmonious family that, at all times, included my Uncle Bud and Aunt Betty. My Uncle Bud was my Dad’s older brother – by 22 years – which is why I really saw Bud and Betty more as grandparents, and they did grandparent things. I wish my Uncle Bud were alive so I could hug him and give him thanks for the role he served in my life.
Without the influence of my family during my early years, my life in football isn’t happening. No way am I standing in front of you at this moment. But, as a kid, when you’re showered with love by everyone around you, anything was possible. So, I set the bar high, real high, maybe too high. I wanted to be a quarterback in the NFL.
Growing up in Colorado, I dreamed of playing for the Denver Broncos at old Mile High Stadium. But my first goal was to suit up for Sam Pagano at Fairview High School, where my cousins, who were my role models, played. Problem was, the first thing Coach Pagano did my sophomore year, literally in stretch before we practiced, he ended my dreams of being a QB. I was destined to be an offensive lineman, but not before a short stint as a tight end on the sophomore team and water boy for the varsity. And I was a damn good water boy! Coach Pagano would shift me to offensive line for my junior and senior seasons. Quarterback to tight end and, a short stint at water boy to the offensive line – not the most glamorous path, but all credit to you coach, it was the right path.
It was the path to the University of Southern California, where my football career would take flight and fight on and my life would take shape. My first offensive line coach there was John Matsko. He would teach me how to pass block, he was tough minded, he demanded a level of play, but he also taught me something else. He instilled in me the honor of playing offensive line at USC in the mold of Hall of Famers Ron Yary, Ron Mix, Anthony Munoz and Bruce Mathews. I was honored to call you guys fellow Trojans and humbled now to call you guys teammates on the greatest offensive line on the greatest team ever assembled.
John Robinson would become head coach for my final two seasons at USC, and he brought with him Mike Barry as offensive line coach. Coach Robinson and Coach Barry would do something that I’m forever grateful for. They coached me hard. I mean, really hard, like miserably hard. They pulled something out of me that I had no idea even existed. It was tough, it was miserable at times, but like all the people God has put in my life, I wouldn’t have become the player or the man I am without them.
My career, indeed, had taken flight at USC. Much more important, however, my life would take shape, thanks to meeting Angi Aylor, my wife, best friend, counselor, supporter, and the world’s greatest mom for 27 plus years. I want to thank Angi’s parents, Ed and Nancy, and her siblings, Steve, Ami and Jeff, for all the support and for not messing her up. Angi you’ve been central to my life, in the journey I’ve taken as a football player, husband and father. You’ve been with me since the beginning, encouraging me to take and follow the right path. And to keep me on the right path, she actually married me. Angi was at my side when the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars selected me second overall in the 1995 NFL Draft. The greatest thing football has done for me, is setting the stage for you, Angi, to be my wife. God gave me the opportunity to play the game I love, but outside of Jesus dying for me, you’re the greatest gift I’ve received. Thank you and I love you!
Angi and I are blessed incredibly to call Jacksonville our home. It is where four of our five children were born, and every one of them have been raised. It’s a beautiful city where the Bosellis have made lifelong friends, several of you here today. I am indebted to our first owners, Wayne and Delores Weaver. Thank you for bringing the NFL to Jacksonville and making me a Jaguar. And I am grateful for our current owners, Shad and Ann Khan, Tony Khan and Shanna Khan, and team president Mark Lamping. You’ve treated us as though we’ve been part of your lives forever. Just like family.
Again, there is nothing more precious than family. To my Jaguars family…it all starts with Tom Coughlin, who by the way belongs on this stage really soon because there’s not too many better coaches than him. Tom you were a pain to play for at times, though. You were hard, had high standards, a bunch of silly rules I never agreed with. You were difficult to play for, but I always respected you. You made us winners. I am more grateful for you Coach with each passing year, and Tom, you and your family will always mean the world to Angi and I. Thank you, Coach.
Mike Maser was my first offensive line coach in Jacksonville. He’s not here with us any longer. Boy he was great, and he took a kid out of USC who thought he was pretty good and pushed him to be even better. I wish you were here to celebrate with me Coach.
I had amazing teammates. I was fortunate to play with so many great Jaguars like Fred Taylor, who made me look good all the time, and Jimmy Smith who not too many people could cover. I hope one day both of them will have the chance to be in Canton. And I treasure the moments I shared with my brothers on the offensive line, especially Ben Coleman, who had my back at left guard, Leon Searcy, who set the standard on the right side, and one of my best friends, Jeff Novak, who by the way is the only guy I ever backed up in the NFL, but most of the time he was busy making jokes and making me laugh.
It’s not an overstatement– to all of my Jaguars teammates, coaches and staff, you were all instrumental in my path to Canton. Guys like Dan Edwards, Mike Perkins, Jerry Palmeri, Mike Ryan, Drew Hampton, Tucker Petree and so many more. You were all essential to my personal success and emblematic of why our teams in Jacksonville reflected the very best values of our game. Your background, ethnicity, beliefs and talents may differ. But, when you report to work in the locker room, you’re one. In Jacksonville, in our locker room and throughout our organization, we were one.
Just a few minutes ago, the guy who presented me and he defines the concept of family for me as well and him and I will always be one. He’s my best friend and that’s Mark Brunell. It was my job I thought to just protect him as the quarterback, but it became evident really early that I was also protecting a man of great character. Mark, I’m honored that you presented me today, and I thank you for your friendship.
And thank you, God, for all of your gifts. It took hard work to get here, but I didn’t make myself this size or athletic. It was you. I didn’t ask for the people you put in my life. You put the amazing people in my life. So to my friends, teammates, coaches and staff and even the local media I guess, with a special appreciation to a couple of guys who covered me – Sam Kouvaris, Pete Prisco, John Oehser, Gene Frenette, Dan Hicken and Jeff Prosser. You guys bared the torch for me throughout my eligibility and to a couple of guys I call games with every Sunday, Frank Frangie and Jeff Lageman, thank you guys.
I thank God for football and I thank God for the people of Jacksonville. And I have to get this in one time…DUUUVAL!
Above all, I thank God for family…Mom, Fred, Carla, Jennifer, Michael, Lauren, Liz, Uncle Bud and Aunt Betty and all my cousins, Angi, my five amazing kids, Andrew, Adam, Ashli, Lexi, Ansli, but there’s actually one more I want to talk about. I was born Don Bosco Anthony Boselli, Junior. The best part of my name though is Junior.
To my dad, Tony Boselli, Senior, whose brave fight with cancer was decided on May 31, 2021 and whose impact on my childhood and career can never be adequately expressed. Thank you, Dad. Thank you for everything. I am happy you are in the comfort of God. I know you are here, but man I wish you were here with me. I miss you. I love you. And on this, one of the greatest days of my life, I honor your memory, and thank you for the greatest gift of all and that’s family.