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View from the O-Zone: 'It’s disappointing'

Posted Feb 3, 2018

Oehser: Jaguars OT Tony Boselli narrowly missed being in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class – and that means a good ’18 class is not the best class

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The wait goes on.

That’s not what Tony Boselli wanted Saturday night when the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced, and it’s not what should have happened. Absolutely not.

What happened was Boselli – the best player in Jaguars history and perhaps the best left tackle of the best generation of left tackles -- once again did not make the Hall of Fame.

Once again, he got close.

But once again – as was the case last year – close meant disappointment expressed in classy fashion for the player who defined the most successful era in Jaguars history.

“It’s disappointing; I think that’s natural,” Boselli said.

That was the first thing Boselli told jaguars.com at the Hilton Minneapolis moments after receiving the call from the Hall of Fame informing him he had not made this year’s class.

Boselli then – as he did last year – spoke of his respect for the game and of the others who were enshrined this year.

“I’ve said it all along: even though I’m disappointed, there are 15 guys on the list including me – and every guy you can make a case for,” Boselli said. “The competitor in you wants to be one of the five, and I’m happy for whoever those five are. 

“It wasn’t meant to be right now. We’ll see what happens in the future.”

Boselli when he spoke didn’t know specifics. Here is the class:

Former Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis, former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, former Minnesota Vikings/Oakland Raiders/New England Patriots/Tennessee Titans/San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss, former San Francisco 49ers/Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles/Buffalo Bills/Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens, former Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer, former Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile and former Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard.

Lewis, Urlacher, Dawkins, Moss and Owens were the modern-era finalists who made it; that made them Boselli’s competition, with the Hall voting in only five of the 15 modern-era finalists each year. Lewis, Urclacher and Moss were in their first year of eligibility; Dawkins was in his second and Owens was in his third. 

Kramer and Brazile were senior finalists and Beathard was named as a contributor, but the five modern-era finalists draw the most scrutiny and controversy each year – and such was the case again this year.

Is this a good class? The right class?

Was justice done Saturday?

Those are questions every February upon the Hall class being announced and they were questions asked passionately and angrily by Jaguars fans for a second consecutive year Saturday night.

The thought here is it is a good class. As Boselli said, all five are deserving because all 15 finalists were deserving. There are no bad Hall of Famers, and because of the exclusivity forced by inducting only five modern-era candidates each year, worthy candidates are annually left off – sometimes for a long time.

Is this the right class? This writer’s class would have been Lewis, Dawkins, Moss, guard Steve Hutchinson and Boselli – so the thought here is the voters hit 60 percent.

Was justice done? That’s tougher question. The thought here is no.

That’s obviously written with bias. I covered all but a few of Boselli’s NFL games, and have known him for more than two decades. I spent extensive time the last two February discussing the pros and cons of his candidacy with many committee members.

Still, from that skewed perspective it’s clear Boselli absolutely now – more than ever – deserves to be in the Hall.

When Boselli played – from 1995-2001 – he was the best left tackle in a golden age for the position. The other elite tackles around that era – Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf and Orlando Pace – are all in the Hall of Fame. Almost no one who observed the NFL at that time would argue that Boselli wasn’t at least as good as the majority of the players in that group; many consider him the best.

The fact that he played just seven seasons for a long time kept him out of the Hall discussion. It’s why he didn’t make the list of semifinalists until his 10th year of eligibility and why he didn’t make the list of finalists until 2017, his 11th year.

But that argument disappeared when Terrell Davis – whose career also was shortened by injury – made the Hall last year. Now, the conversation must focus on whether or not Boselli was among the best of all time when he played – and of that there can be no doubt.

Boselli was right Saturday: A case can be made for all five players who made it.

But if voters continue to ignore the case for Boselli much longer, it will move beyond disappointing.

It will start bordering on disgraceful.

 

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