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View from the O-Zone: Bo building momentum

Posted Feb 1, 2018

Oehser: Nothing’s certain when it comes to Pro Football Hall of Fame voting, but former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli’s candidacy feels as if it’s gaining momentum


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The momentum is real, and that matters.

You can’t be around Super Bowl LII and talk about the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class without hearing that about Tony Boselli, and that’s an unquestionably good thing for the best player ever to play for the Jaguars.

His Hall chances are real – really real this time.

And while that’s clearly good for Boselli, it’s not something he wants to allow himself to believe. Not yet. Not until Saturday.

“You don’t want to build that up too much inside, just in case you don’t [make it],’’ Boselli said Thursday afternoon.

Here’s what Boselli and anyone else interested is hearing around the Super Bowl this week:

That Boselli’s Hall chances, after increasing considerably last year in his first year as a finalist, feel even better this year.

We use the word “feel” by necessity. There is by definition mystery when it comes to the Hall process, in part because of the closed-door nature of the balloting and because most Hall voters decline to discuss their votes or leanings in advance of Saturday’s vote. But the feel of momentum for Boselli very definitely is real.

This is his third consecutive year as a Hall semifinalist and second as a finalist. He not only made the list of 15 finalists last season, he also made the final 10 last year in his first year “in the room.”

The “in-the-room” part is important here. When you’re “in the room,” it means as one of the 15 finalists you’re being discussed when the 48 Hall of Fame voters meet on the day before the Super Bowl each year.

Boselli made it into the room last year, and he made it onto the list of final 10 …

And yes, that means a lot for his chances.

“Momentum does matter, because when you go into the Top 10, you’re on the launching pad for the next year – and the next year is this year; it’s this week,” longtime Hall selector Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network said. “Tony goes from a finalist to a Top 10 finalist, so you go, ‘Whoa … he’s a guy we seriously have to consider.’’’

Just how good are his chances? What will happen Saturday?

Those are the two questions every Hall finalist is being asked this week – and it’s the question Hall voters are asked of every candidate every year. They are unanswerable, so we won’t try in this space to get much more specific than Boselli’s chances are better this year than last year – and they were better last year than before.

That may well mean good things for Boselli Saturday, when the 48 Hall voters will spend the morning and much of the afternoon hearing the cases of the 15 modern-era finalists, one contributor candidate and two senior candidates. Of that list, five modern-era candidates can be named along with the contributor and the senior candidates.

That means Boselli essentially is “competing” against 14 other modern-era candidates for five spots, and as Boselli has said often, all candidates are worthy and many of the 15 eventually will be enshrined.

A major factor working for Boselli this year: the enshrinement last year of former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis. Davis’ career, like that of Boselli’s, was cut short by injuries. And yes, the lack of longevity – long a primary argument against Boselli – is heard far less this year than last year.

“The Terrell Davis election changed everything,” Judge said.

Here’s maybe the biggest truth: while there’s no such thing as a certainty in Hall voting, it feels closer and closer to certain Boselli will make the Hall eventually. After being overlooked by the Hall process for too long, he is anything but overlooked now.

Longtime Hall voter Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News called Boselli Hall-of-Fame timbre.

“When I call a guy Hall-of-Fame timber, in my mind that means when that day does come for him I’m not going to be surprised,” Carucci said. “I think he absolutely is worthy, but I’ve said it about others who are not yet in Canton. I really do think there is a place for him there.”

Those are stronger quotes than you heard this time last year for Boselli. What he did on the field now is being considered more strongly than the length of his career – and when voters talk about him, they talk about the dominance he showed in meetings with Hall of Fame players such as Bruce Smith and Jason Taylor.

Just how good are his chances? What will happen Saturday?

As unanswerable as those questions are and always will be before Hall voting, the answer for Boselli this year are his chances feel far better than ever before.

He has momentum – and when it comes to Hall voting, that matters a lot.

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