Class of 2022: Tony Boselli first Jacksonville Jaguar enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame
By Barry Wilner
Special to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
A short career can also be a Hall of Fame career.
TONY BOSELLI is proof of that.
The first player drafted by the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995, selected second overall after being an All-American at USC, Boselli played 91 games over seven pro seasons. His NFL stay was cut short by a botched shoulder surgery, and when the Texans selected him in the expansion draft in 2002, Boselli was unable to suit up.
In his time with the Jags, Boselli made three All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls. He was as dominant as any offensive tackle in the league, playing during a golden era that featured such Pro Football Hall of Fame blockers as JONATHAN OGDEN, WALTER JONES, KEVIN MAWAE, DERMONTTI DAWSON, ORLANDO PACE, STEVE HUTCHINSON, ALAN FANECA, WILLIE ROAF, GARY ZIMMERMAN, RANDALL MCDANIEL and WILL SHIELDS.
On Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Boselli became the first Jaguar in the Hall.
“This is not an overstatement: All of my Jaguars teammates, coaches and staff were instrumental in my path to Canton,” said Boselli, who admitted he was destined to be a lineman even though he dreamed of being a quarterback when a kid. “All were 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.”
And in Year 2, led by their quick, powerful and smart left tackle, the Jaguars were in the AFC Championship Game – an unprecedented achievement in the conference. He was voted team MVP, an unusual award for an offensive lineman.
Boselli paid tribute to former teammates and to all of his coaches, from high school through his first and only NFL coach, Tom Coughlin, who he gave a shoutout to be voted into the Hall.
“Tom was hard, demanding and had some rules I didn’t agree with. Tom was difficult to play for, but I always respected him,” he said. “You made us winners. I am more grateful for you with each passing year.”
One of five children who, with wife Angi, has five children of his own, Boselli stressed the family atmosphere not only throughout the Jaguars organization, but within the Boselli clan.
“There is nothing more important,” he said. “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.”
Boselli’s dad, Tony Sr., passed away last year. The elder Tony recorded a congratulatory video for his son just before his death, to be shown to Tony Jr. when he was voted into the Hall of Fame.
Family members and friends played it in February, when Boselli found out he made the Canton shrine, but he couldn’t bring himself to watch it.
On Saturday, Boselli mentioned the “impact on my childhood, career” by his father “can never be adequately expressed.”
“Thank you, Dad. Thank you for everything. I am happy you are in the comfort of God,” he said.
“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.”
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