JACKSONVILLE – This is a moment of great pride.
That's unquestionably true for Tony Boselli as he prepares to be the first former Jaguars player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Leon Searcy feels that pride, too, and Boselli's former offensive linemate will tell you this much, too:
He's far from alone.
"When he went in, I said, 'Jacksonville, we're in Canton," Searcy said. "All of the teammates he played with – although we'll never wear the jacket, we're going to celebrate. He was one of us and now he's being enshrined. It's a good feeling. It's a great feeling.
"To know that one of our guys here in Jacksonville is going into the Hall of Fame, it's just special."
Searcy, the Jaguars' starting right tackle opposite Boselli at left tackle from 1996-1999, as such is forever linked with Boselli in franchise lore. He joined senior writer John Oehser as part of a series of podcasts discussing Boselli's induction and discussed multiple topics – including the idea that his former teammate was more of a finesse player than a "mauler."
Searcy said that couldn't have been less true.
"He wasn't fine with just getting you blocked," Searcy said. "He wanted to punish you. He wanted to embarrass you, to be quite honest with you – especially if you started mouthing off. Defensive players have a tendency to run their mouths and expect offensive linemen to be quiet.
"We weren't like that. We'd say, 'OK, you can talk your game. But we're coming back.' If you watch the film, Tony and I were like the bouncers at the club. We would throw you out of the club, then roll you off the sidewalk. Then maybe you get hit by a cab.
"We played with a nasty mentality where we wanted to out-physical you."
Searcy said he and Boselli as bookend tackles on the Jaguars' best all-time teams share a real bond. He also said that bond took time to build – and that Boselli's high level of play in Searcy's first season with the Jaguars, 1996, shook him out of a phase when Searcy wasn't playing as well.
That phase also set a tone for the two – and the team – for years.
"As a competitor, you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, 'This guy's outplaying you, bro: You need to do something,''' Searcy said. "I can admit to the fact that Boselli's play, him being so young and playing so well early, pushed me. When I got my game going, there was a bond.
"When we made it to the AFC Championship Game [following the 1996 season], that's where the bonding began. We were both young, but we realized we were both special. Having us two there solidified the line.
"We knew if No. 8 (quarterback Mark Brunell) was protected, we had a chance to win."
For the entire podcast with Searcy speaking about Boselli, click here.
To view the previous article in the series with Jason Taylor, click here.