Taylor "humbled, excited" to be Hall semifinalist

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JACKSONVILLE – Now, there are two.

Running back Fred Taylor and offensive tackle Tony Boselli, perhaps the two greatest players in Jaguars history, on Tuesday afternoon were both announced as being among 25 modern-era semifinalists for the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Taylor, who played with the Jaguars from 1998-2008, was named a semifinalist for the first time and said he was "humbled and excited" upon hearing the news.

"I am humbled, grateful and very appreciative that I'm at this point," Taylor said.

Boselli, who played with the Jaguars from 1995-2001, was named a semifinalist for the fifth time. He has been a Hall finalist the past three years and finished in the Top 10 in the balloting all three years.

"Every time, at every stage, when you see your name included it's an honor," Boselli said. "Being included with all of those great players, and Fred being one of them, is a huge honor."

Boselli said he was "ecstatic" for Taylor.

"Him getting recognized, rightfully, as one of the best running backs to play the game is awesome," Boselli said. "It's good for him. It's good for the Jaguars. As one of his teammates, I'm ecstatic that he's right in the semifinalists with me."

Taylor, who retired in 2010 after two seasons with the New England Patriots, has been on the initial Hall ballot in recent seasons. Being named a semifinalist is a significant step because of the nature of the voting process.

The 25 semifinalists will be reduced to 15 finalists to be announced January 2, 2020. Finalists will then be presented to the 48-member Hall of Fame Selection Committee during its "Selection Saturday" on February 1, 2020 – the day before the Super Bowl.

Five modern-era players are elected to the Hall each year. The Hall for this year only also will induct 10 Seniors (a player retired for more than 25 seasons), three Contributors (individual other than player or coach) and two Coaches, according to the Hall. The additions are to honor the NFL's Centennial Celebration.

"I don't want to get too overly excited, so I've got to try to find that balance," Taylor said. "I've voiced my opinion to a certain extent, really just planting seeds, but understanding the process I understand that being a finalist is where it is. That's when they state your case and decide why and why not. 

"That's the goal and end all, to be enshrined someday. As far as today, again I'm excited and humbled. But there's still a lot of work to do."

Boselli, the No. 2 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft and the first player ever drafted by the Jaguars in the college selection process, was named to the Pro Bowl five times and was an Associated Press All-Pro Selection three times. He was named to the second team on the NFL's 1990s All-Decade team.

Taylor, the No. 9 overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft, rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons. He had seven seasons with more than 1,000 yards rushing and six seasons with more than 1,200 yards rushing.

He ranks No. 17 on the NFL's all-time rushing list. Former Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks running back Edgerrin James is the only retired player ahead of Taylor on the all-time list not in the Hall of Fame.

"There are a lot of guys who were amazing at that position, but I think my argument is valid," Taylor said. "Looking at the defenses we played, looking at the guys who are in the Hall of Fame defensively that I was able to play against, and how much I accounted for in the Jaguars' offense for a lot of years …

"There are lot of different things that carry weight, but will they say, 'This is enough to give him the nod?' Who knows, but today I'm thankful for being a semifinalist, to be in that group."

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