It’s been a long time coming.
Announced just shortly ago during the 2022 NFL Honors, former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli has finally made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after waiting 19 years since retiring from the game of football, 16 years since becoming eligible for the hall, and six consecutive years of being named a finalist.
“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.
“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.”
He was the first player ever selected by the franchise and is now the first to ever join the immortals in Canton (OH) as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Boselli is joined by safety Leroy Butler, defensive end/tackle Richard Seymour, defensive tackle Bryant Young, linebacker Sam Mills, coach Dick Vermeil, official Art McNally and receiver Cliff Branch.
Boselli got the “knock,” and he’s as deserving as the many that have come before him, will come after him, and the four other modern-era finalists that will officially join him in Canton when he is officially enshrined, becoming part of the immortal group of outstanding players across several generations.
Boselli, 49, was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1995 Draft, the first draft selection in the franchise’s history.
He would play for the Jaguars from 1995-2001 before his career was cut short due to shoulder injuries. But, while he was playing, Boselli would make five Pro Bowls and be named first-team All-Pro three times.
He was also named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. Among those chosen with him as offensive linemen, only Richmond Webb (Miami Dolphins), Steve Winisewki (Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders) and Mark Stepnski (Dallas Cowboys, Houston/Tennessee Oilers) have yet to be named to the Hall of Fame.
All other offensive players have made it, and so now has Boselli who created the standard for left tackles for generations to come after him. For some, Boselli was thought of as the best left tackle in pro football for five seasons while he was healthy.
He went up against plenty of HOF defensive ends during his time, protecting former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. That list includes former Bruce Smith, Jason Taylor, Reggie White and Kevin Greene, among others.
But, for many, his performance against Smith during the 1996 playoffs where he stymied and frustrated Smith, making him essentially a non-factor during the contest. He would go one-on-one with the HOF defensive end for the majority of the game.
For reference, Smith was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, accounting for 13.5 sacks.
After not speaking about Boselli for many years, Smith had plenty of praise for the now-HOF LT just a couple of years ago.
“Tony is a stud. He was a stud,” Smith said in 2020. “I think I played against him all three times and he gave me all that I could handle, that is for sure.”
But, if Smith’s praise isn’t enough credit to Boselli’s incredible career, former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Anthony Munoz, who is thought of as the best offensive tackle of all time, has had plenty of praise for Boselli over the years.
He would recently share those same sentiments earlier this week on Radio Row with Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser. “If he gets that call, that he’s in, it’s very deserving,” Munoz told Oehser in reference to the call Boselli received to be inducted into the HOF.
“The deserving part is what you did on the field. People talk about, ‘Well, his career wasn’t long…There are guys who have played and they were the best when they were playing. That’s what it’s all about.
“It’s deserving if he gets in — very deserving.”
And now, he’s in. No more waiting, no more groveling over games played even with players with shorter careers make it. No, Boselli is in, and that’s all that matters.
Enshrinement for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 is set to take place on Aug. 6, 2022, with Enshrinement week taking place from Aug. 4 through Aug. 7. It will be then, when Boselli and everyone watching in attendance and at home will see his bronze bust to forever stay in Canton.
The weekend concludes with the first preseason game of the 2022 season, typically between two teams that represent players from the year’s modern HOF class.