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On This Day: Tony Boselli retires

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I'm not a big fan of news conferences where a player signs a one-year deal to retire as a member of the team he once played for. I'll make an exception for March 20, 2006, however, since that was the day Tony Boselli stepped back into the Jaguars limelight for one last bow.

It's significant because Boselli was the first face of the Jaguars organization, not his buddy Mark Brunell or Jimmy Smith or even Fred Taylor. The Jaguars' first draft pick wasn't just the face, he was the personality. Boselli was a great player and he knew it, not that he flaunted his playing virtues, but he knew as a great player that he had to set the tone in the locker room and establish the standard on the field.

His first NFL game was a Sunday night affair on TNT, if you recall that far back when they had a prime time package, against the Green Bay Packers. The rookie tackle was tested by a rotating duo of Shawn Jones and Reggie White. White moved almost exclusively to the other side of the defense after Boselli more than held his own against the future Hall of Fame defender.

He dazzled us more than a year later in Buffalo when it was noted in the aftermath of the Jaguars' Wild Card win over the Bills that another future Hall of Fame defensive end, Bruce Smith, didn't even show up in the stat sheet.  Boselli was the first offensive lineman to earn an isolation camera focused on him in 1998 when the Monday Night Football crew wanted to see the matchup with Jason Taylor. Taylor didn't care to watch the replay, I'm certain, as Tony abused him in front of a national television audience.

I could go on and on about the five-time Pro Bowl left tackle, but should note for you that rarely had an offensive lineman provided such highlights in the previous 75 years of NFL history. It's also worth noting that on more than one occasion Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz, who is by almost all accounts the very best to ever play the position, has insisted that fellow USC alumnus Boselli is the best in his mind.

The return of Boselli was also critical for the franchise because he left after the 2001 season under such unhappy circumstances. The Jaguars knew he was unlikely to play again because of shoulder issues and they knew they couldn't keep him because of immense salary cap issues. His departure to the Texans in the 2002 Expansion Draft opened a hole in the soul of the franchise that wouldn't be filled until this day in 2006.

Tony Boselli became the Jaguars' first draft pick in club history on April 22, 1995. Take a look at images of the modern-era finalist named for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019

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