JACKSONVILLE – Tony Boselli is one step closer to the Hall of Fame.
Boselli, the first player ever inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars, on Tuesday night became one of 15 modern-era candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class 2017. The announcement was made on the NFL Network.
That essentially makes Boselli a finalist for the '17 class.
"It's a huge honor," Boselli said shortly after Tuesday night's announcement. "Not a lot of guys get this far. To be recognized like this is huge. It's a big honor.
"It's not why you play the game. It's not why I played the game. But as far as post-career recognition, it's pretty cool."
Boselli, a Pro Bowl left tackle for the Jaguars from 1996-2000, was among 26 semifinalists for the Class of '17 announced in November. That group was then pared to 15 for Tuesday's announcement.
The Seniors Committee also nominates two candidates for a final ballot of 17 nominees. At least four candidates are elected annually with no more than eight elected.
This is the first time Boselli has advanced to the final group in the Hall voting process. He was a semifinalist in 2015 and 2016.
"It changes a little bit, because up to this point your career is never really debated among the guys who decide," Boselli said. "It's off to the side – one offs and all of that. I never let myself even go down the path too far, because there are a lot of different stages to the process and you sit back and let the process happen – and where it goes, so be it.
"But now, you're one of 15 guys in a room that they're going to talk about and debate whether your career is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame. That's pretty danged close to getting there, so now it seems a little more real.
"We'll see what happens."
The forty-eight Hall of Fame voters will decide the '17 class in a February 4 vote in Houston, the site of Super Bowl LI. The '17 class will be announced that night, the eve of Super Bowl LI.
Boselli, the No. 2 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft and the first player ever selected in the draft by the Jaguars, was an Associated Press All-Pro selection from 1997-1999. He also is a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade team.
Boselli is the only member of the '90s All-Decade team not yet in the Hall of Fame.
Boselli played with the Jaguars through the 2001 season, after which he was selected by the Houston Texans in that offseason's expansion draft. He never played for the Texans, retiring because of a shoulder injury.