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Boselli passed over for Hall: "It was different this year…"

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JACKSONVILLE – Big Bo's wait continues.

But while former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli again was passed over for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his reaction changed this time.

"While there's disappointment, it's funny: It was different this year," Boselli said.

Boselli, the first player ever inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars, on Saturday was not announced as one of five modern-era inductees for the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. He had been among 15 modern-era finalists this year for a fifth consecutive year.

But the year for Boselli was dramatically unlike years past.

First, there was how he learned of the news.

In a normal year, the Hall process goes like this: Fifteen modern-era finalists are flown to the Super Bowl city, with the 48 Hall voters meeting in the Super Bowl city that morning to elect the class. Candidates await the news in a hotel, with inductees hearing the news personally and those not making it receiving a telephone call.

Because of COVID-19, this year's Hall vote took place January 19. Boselli learned he had not made the Hall in late January, with the Hall asking all candidates to keep the news private until Saturday's announcement.

Boselli also said the experiences he and his family had this year may have changed his outlook. He spent five days in intensive care with COVID-19 last March.

"I don't know if it was because [the Hall process] was virtual and I wasn't in Tampa [for the Super Bowl] to find out," Boselli said. "That was different. Or, has my perspective changed because of the pandemic and what we went through as a family this year?

"It's still very important and would still be a huge honor, but it's not going to ultimately define who I am as an individual and as a person."

No more than five modern-era nominees can be voted into the Hall each year. The five modern-era inductees this year were quarterback Peyton Manning, cornerback Charles Woodson, safety John Lynch, guard Alan Faneca and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Manning, Woodson and Johnson were all first-time nominees.

"My wife [Angi] and kids were more disappointed and upset and mad than I was," Boselli said. "I get that. They care about me and they love me. This is an individual honor, but at the same it's not. It's about my family. It's about the guys I played with. It's about the organization I played for.

"It's bigger than just me. I get that my family's disappointed and friends are disappointed. But as I told them, 'Hopefully one day we're celebrating and it will all be worthwhile – and the waiting will pay off in a big way.' So, we'll see."

Boselli was the No. 2 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft, the first player ever selected by the Jaguars in the college draft. He was named to the Pro Bowl five times – following the 1996-2000 seasons – and was a second-team selection to the NFL's 1990s All-Decade team. He was a three-time first-team Associated Press All-Pro selection before shoulder injuries cut his career short after seven seasons.

Other finalists this year: Defensive end Jared Allen, safety LeRoy Butler, linebacker Clay Matthews, wide receiver Torry Holt, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, cornerback Ronde Barber, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Sam Mills and linebacker Zach Thomas.

"I want to be in the Hall of Fame," Boselli said. "It's a huge honor. It's a special group and the five guys who made it all deserved to be there this year. But considering what we've been through as a family this year, I said, 'That's OK. Let's hope for next year and we'll keep going forward and wish the people who did make it a big congratulations.' I'm really excited for them."

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