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O-Zone: Big pride

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Richard from Orange Park, FL

Wow, Zone. Bruce Smith went after Tony, huh? I say it sort of makes Bruce look bad, not Tony. But you've been doing this a while. You've interviewed a lot of athletes. What say you?

You're referencing Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith's Instagram post Tuesday regarding former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli – who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in August. Smith in a five-page post seemed to take offense to Boselli's "advocates" sliding "headlong down a slippery slope" of discussing Boselli's performance against Smith in the playoffs following the 1996 season as evidence of Boselli's Hall worthiness. I have multiple thoughts on this issue, and I will cover them in multiple O-Zone answers. The first thought: It absolutely makes Smith look bad. And petty. I'm not sure how it could be seen any other way. Have Boselli's "advocates" talked a lot about that matchup in the '96 playoffs? Sure. Boselli turned in a remarkable performance, and it was a remarkably perfect storm of timing. It was a breakout game for an elite player (Boselli) and it came against one of the great pass rushers in NFL history (Smith). It was in the postseason. It was on national television. It was a highlighted one-on-one matchup. Commentators talked a lot about the matchup before and during the game, which is rare for an offensive tackle-defensive end matchup. The performance came in a remarkable upset that was part of a historic playoff run. There was every reason to discuss it at the time – and every reason for Boselli's "advocates" to discuss it during his Hall candidacy and as his enshrinement. Why the hell wouldn't his advocates talk about that game? It was one of the defining moments in a career and evidence of greatness. They're supposed to act like it didn't happen?

Michael from Jacksonville

Pretty weak effort from Bruce Smith, huh?

Well, considering it was a five-page Instagram post, it actually was a pretty good effort. And a big one. It may even have taken some thought, content of the post notwithstanding.

Tommy from Jacksonville

Bruce Smith's comments were disappointing. I always considered him a classy guy but it's not a good look. Makes him look like a poor sport. Your thoughts.

Smith's comments didn't make him look like a classy guy.

Fred from Naples, FL

Bruce Smith apparently isn't too pleased that Tony Boselli is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He recently wrote on Instagram that he doesn't consider Tony "Hall-worthy" and took exception to him promoting the success he had against Smith in the 1996 playoff game. "Tony was a formidable opponent during his BRIEF career." He then goes on to state that Tony's body of work doesn't compare to Anthony Munoz, Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf and Walter Jones. He further states that it was Leon Searcy who protected the left-handed Mark Brunell, not Boselli. What a classless act. He got stonewalled against Tony for 60 minutes and this is all he has to say? I hope Mark Brunell sets it straight in his introduction (although I doubt he will) of Tony. I am looking forward to making the trip to Canton to watch the ceremonies and I hope I run into Bruce Smith who apparently still has not gotten over his beatdown some 25 plus years later.

My guess is Brunell won't mention Smith's comments when he introduces Boselli before Boselli's speech in Canton, Ohio, this summer.  I doubt you will hear Boselli address this much, either. Boselli's Hall moment should be about honoring the player who had standout performances against many players, not just one. I expect Boselli and Brunell will behave as such.

Paul from Riverside

If I'm Boselli, I'm pissed.

I imagine Boselli isn't too pleased. Smith in his Instagram post mentioned the Hall's "tacit code of conduct which fosters respect and brotherhood between its members." He went on to discuss "Boselli's brief career" and added that he found it "difficult to compare the totality of his body of work with those of the NFL's greatest left tackles." This would perhaps seem outside a "tacit code of conduct which fosters respect and brotherhood between its members." I doubt if Boselli will say much about it. But if I'm him … yeah, I imagine he's none too pleased.

Bill from the Northside

Wow. What did Bo say to tick off Bruce?

Nothing. I've interviewed Boselli many times about his career and never heard him say anything disparaging about Smith. I also interviewed Boselli many times in the immediate, emotional moments after he had learned he hadn't been elected to the Hall in a given year. I never heard him publicly or privately say anything negative about any Hall member nor did he discuss "the totality" of any electee's "body of work." What set Smith off? My guess is that he has been getting requests from media members such as myself to discuss Boselli. My guess is this rankled him and that he interpreted these requests as somehow diminishing his own status. That Boselli had nothing to do with these requests – and that Boselli never has bragged about his performance that day in '96 – seems to have not occurred to Smith. I doubt Boselli will have much problem following the Hall's tacit code of conduct. For transparency's sake, I did request through the Bills to speak to Smith about Boselli for a series of podcasts that will post on this summer. I have conducted interviews for this series with other players who played against Boselli. One was with former Baltimore Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary, who Boselli respected more than any other opponent. Another was with Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor. Both were gracious, classy, informative and entertaining when discussing Boselli. This was not unexpected or surprising. Both McCrary and Taylor conducted themselves like players with the utmost respect for the game and for a worthy opponent. I have not heard back from Smith.

Levi from Cd'A, Idaho

I've been married six years and still have no children. I've been waiting for the right time to raise the kid into a great Jags culture which just hasn't presented itself yet. My sister-in-law has been married for one year and is very pregnant. I just ordered her son a Lawrence onesie from the Jags store. I think this child is going to help us turn it around. What say you, Big O?

I say the kid has potential. If anyone can turn this thing around, it's him.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Bruce Smith seems mighty salty that Tony Boselli is getting into the HOF. Not sure if you've read his comments, but he seems to be undermining Boselli's career. Yes, Tony had a highlight game against Bruce Smith, but to make it sound like he only had one game and that is the reason why he is going to the hall is ludicrous and disrespectful. Tony Boselli's career was short, but few can argue that there was a better left tackle than him when he played.

Boselli was a three-time first-team Associated Press All-Pro selection. He was widely considered the best left tackle in the NFL in the late 1990s, which is considered by many the Golden Age of left tackles in the NFL. What's said about what happened Tuesday is that Boselli is in the Hall of Fame. Voters discussed his body of work – ad nauseum and decided he merited induction. It's patently unfair and wrong that this discussion take place again.

Henry from Florahome

I like the idea of giving most veterans an early vacation. It shows trust and gives some guarantees those guys won't get injured. Most important, more attention for rookies that will benefit from a "smaller classroom." I like bold moves, and we got nothing to lose.


Paul from Saint Johns, FL

Suppose Myles Jack wasn't down and we advance to the Super Bowl and play Philly. Who wins the Super Bowl then?

I think the Jaguars would have had a real chance to win that Super Bowl against the Eagles. I don't think it would have been one-sided either way. The Jaguars had won two close games in the postseason (against the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers) and lost a close game to New England. I imagine the Super Bowl would have had a similar feel – a game somewhere in the high 20s with a turnover or break deciding things late.

Matt from Jacksonville

Water IS for cowards! Water makes you weak! That's why we're going to do up-downs until you are no longer thirsty!

You're killing me, Mattie. You're killing me.

Ben from Santa Rosa Beach

Why does Bruce Smith think he can tell HOF voters that they got it wrong? Pride goeth before the fall.

I suppose Smith thinks he can tell voters what he wants because he has an Instagram account and can post whatever he chooses there. So can anyone, pretty much.