Gold Jacket Spotlight: Tony Boselli’s path to Hall of Fame nearly mirrored fellow USC star’s

Gold Jacket Spotlight Published on : 6/10/2024
On Nov. 30, 1993, the owners of the National Football League cast their vote and proclaimed the Jacksonville Jaguars as the league's 30th team. Little did future Hall of Famer and California native TONY BOSELLI know, he would become the face of a franchise nearly 2,500-miles away from home.

A star offensive tackle out of the University of Southern California, Tony was a projected top-five pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. That year, two franchises were slated to make their first-ever selections, the Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers. Carolina held the No. 1 overall pick, but they would trade the pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for picks No. 5 and 36. 

Although Tony’s path to stardom led him across the country, his path could have been similar to another former USC star offensive tackle, ANTHONY MUÑOZ. This week’s Gold Jacket Spotlight examines how their careers could have followed one another in Cincinnati.

“At Southern Cal, he's the guy we studied, the guy we all looked up to,” Tony said before the 1995 draft after garnering comparisons to Muñoz, who by then had retired. “I mean, you're talking about maybe the greatest tackle of all time. I hope maybe in 10 years you can make that comparison.

“I relish the chance to try to do what Muñoz did.”

The paths for Tony and Muñoz were nearly identical — had the Bengals selected Tony with the first overall pick in 1995. Both were coached by John Robinson and had stellar careers at USC, both were first-team All-PAC-10 selections and both were projected top selections in their respective drafts.

“I found tape of Anthony Muñoz and started watching coaching tape of him,” Tony said. “I just modeled my game. I’m like, ‘OK, if this is how the best does it, I should probably try to do something like that as well.’”

Cincinnati had the opportunity to fill a hole at tackle three years after Muñoz had retired with another star from USC, but the franchise had its eyes set on another prospect with the No. 1 pick. In 1980, Muñoz was selected by the Bengals with the No. 3 pick.

Despite their careers not following one another in Cincinnati, the two shared a moment of a lifetime when Muñoz welcomed Tony to the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a knock on his door, informing him that he would be enshrined with the Class of 2022. 

For Tony, the city of Jacksonville, Jaguars fans and the franchise were exactly what he had hoped for after being drafted and moving across the country. 

“It was the perfect fit,” he said. “I fell in love with Jacksonville from the beginning, and it’s been my home ever since. Being the franchise’s first draft pick gave me an opportunity to build a special relationship with an organization and the city.”

He created his own path with the Jaguars and is considered by many as the best player in franchise history. Along with being the first pick in franchise history, Tony became the first member of the franchise’s Ring of Fame and the first Jaguar enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.