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O-Zone: Class act

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Steve from Nashville, TN

Does it not appear to your untrained eye that the AFC South is there for the taking, with quarterback questions in Houston and Indianapolis and Tennessee up against the salary cap?

My untrained eye tells me the Jaguars have won four games in the past two seasons and have some serious roster repair to accomplish before reaching .500 – much less winning the AFC South title. While Tennessee and Indianapolis have some issues, the Titans were the AFC's No. 1 seed this past season and the Colts looked like a possible Super Bowl contender much of the last two months of the season. The Jaguars should improve in the coming seasons, perhaps relatively quickly. To say anything is theirs for the taking is perhaps a reach.

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Will there be some carryover from 2021 into 2022? Specifically, the commitment to upgrade the training facilities, maintain the strength program, etc.? If I am correct the Jags had less injuries than in years past, is that true?

Ground has been broken on the Jaguars' performance center adjacent to TIAA Bank Field, and the result will be a facility dedicated to football operations. It's overdue, will be state-of-the-art and will be cool. The Jaguars in 2022 will maintain a commitment to strength and conditioning, player safety and ensuring players are as healthy as possible. "Sports performance" will be a priority, the best of the best. Just like it was last season. And just like it always has been, pretty much.

Mr MakersMark from Sec 408 Row A

Why did the NFL put two teams in Los Angeles?


Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

I was a young kid during the Boselli era. What were Boselli's best games in your opinion?

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, announced Thursday as a member of the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, was asked this Thursday. He didn't get real specific, though he mentioned the Jaguars' victory over the Buffalo Bills in an AFC Wild-Card playoff game following the 1996 season as standing out. That was the game in which Boselli outplayed Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith while blocking him mostly one on one, and Boselli correctly called it his breakout career game. Boselli mostly on Thursday discussed never having quite played what he considered a perfect game – mentioning that an offensive linemen can play great for 69 of 70 plays and mostly be remembered for allowing a sack on the 70th play. A couple of other games stand out in my time covering Boselli (1995-2000). One was a 1998 game when he held Hall of Fame pass rusher Derrick Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs without a sack a week after Thomas had registered six. Another was Monday Night Football victory over the Miami Dolphins in 1998, when Boselli famously motioned to Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor to follow him and the Jaguars offense down the field after a key Jaguars touchdown. Boselli got up for big games and fared remarkably well against the best players of his era. It's why he's a Hall of Famer, deservedly.

Jim from St. Augustine, FL

It is strange but it seems the clouds are gone and the sun is shining on the Jaguars. The Doug Pederson signing of him as head coach and Tony in the Hall of Fame and all the new coaches. Do you feel it John? it is like the earth has shifted in our favor!

Jim is "all in."

Robbie from JAX

Boselli deserved the HOF. His being taken by the Texans in the expansion draft, along with a couple of other Jags, saved the Jaguars, who were in cap hell. Can you share the story of how the expansion draft brought almost immediate cap relief for Jags? Many younger and new Jaguars fans do not know the story.

This occurred in the 2002 offseason. I had left the Florida Times-Union the previous year to work for, so I don't have all details committed to memory. The story essentially was that the Jaguars were in serious cap difficulties, having signed too many aging players to big – and sometimes, guaranteed – contracts in the late 1990s. They made a deal with the expansion Houston Texans that the Texans would select Boselli in the expansion draft. The Jaguars under the deal also would allow the Texans to select defensive tackles Gary Walker and Seth Payne in the expansion draft – with the Texans taking on about $17 million of salary-cap amortization – and thereby relieving the Jaguars of that same figure. Boselli's future at the time was uncertain because of shoulder injuries, so the Texans assumed risk with the acquisition. Boselli indeed never played again. The Texans benefitted because Walker and Payne were good. The Jaguars benefitted because the transaction cleared the salary cap.

Paul from Fleming Island

Finally, Bo gets the nod to the Hall of Fame, but for Jacksonville it was a double dose! LeRoy Butler, from Lee High School, finally made it as well. Although he was never a Jag, I was surprised he was not mentioned yet on the O-Zone. Anything to share about LeRoy Butler? He has a good back story. Someone should share it.

I haven't written about former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler making the Pro Football Hall of Fame because this is a Jaguars site. I rarely write about Jacksonville-area here in the O-Zone players because there are so many Jaguars fans outside Jacksonville that it doesn't really serve most readers. That said, I spent five years covering high schools for the Florida Times-Union, so I love when Jacksonville players succeed and make the Hall of Fame. Butler's career at Lee High School predated me covering high schools, but I knew his coach at Lee – Corky Rogers – well for a period; I remember Rogers speaking remarkably highly of Butler. I also was fortunate enough to interview Butler multiple times when I was covering the NFL for the Times-Union in the 1990s and 2000s and Butler was playing for Green Bay. He was gracious and down-to-earth – an absolute joy to interview. I was very happy when he made the Hall.

Nate from St Augustine, FL

Hey, John. So happy for our guy Tony, long overdue! Feels great to have the first Jaguar in the Hall of Fame! Can't help but think the road for Tony and running back Fred Taylor and maybe wide receiver Jimmy Smith would be a lot smoother except for those damn 1999 Titans!


Brian from Greenwood, IN

What are the chances that the Jags play in the HOF game?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL like teams with enshrinees in the Hall of Fame Game. So, it's a possibility. The Jaguars haven't played in the game since playing the Carolina Panthers in the teams' inaugural season in '95.

K Log from E 3rd

Mr. O-Zone, the hours are long and the pay is pretty good, but life as a coach must be very tough on the person and their family. Moving around more than military families, competing with other coaches on the same staff for coordinator positions, and you never know when the person that brought you on is going to be fired. That has to really stink that they put their trust in someone and with no fault of their own, they are let go. I cannot think of another profession so public and cutthroat. It takes a special person to do that job.

Being an NFL coach – head coach, coordinator or assistant – isn't easy for the reasons you cite. It's an uncertain existence, with your future often decided by circumstances well beyond your control. At the same time, anyone getting into coaching knows the circumstances in advance. And in the case of NFL head coaches, coordinators and assistants, compensation is more than fair. Is it a tough life? Sure. But no one's forcing them into the profession, either. The best ones I've been around know this.

Chris from Mandarin

During the Jaguars magical 15-3 season, I was 11 years old and got to go to the Monday night show at the River City Brewing Company before they played the Saints during mid-season. It was a big deal for me because I got to ask them a question live on the air, meet Tony Boselli and Mark Brunell and of course get their autographs. To say Boselli was a classy guy who "gets it" is an understatement. He treated me with such respect and here I was this dorky little shrimp with glasses bigger than my face. Years later I was at the game where he was put into the Pride of the Jaguars. I then met him about 5 years after that shortly after one of his hip surgeries, and he was still the genuine article and real class act. I'm not sure where this is going, but let's just say not all heroes wear capes.

Good stuff.