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View from the O-Zone: Absolutely a Hall of Famer


JACKSONVILLE– This isn't what we should be writing about Tony Boselli right now.

No, this morning's View from the O-Zone should be celebratory.

It should be fun.

It should be looking ahead to February and a vote to decide whether or not the best player in Jaguars history will be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Here's guessing we'll write that someday, but we're not writing it yet. And that's wrong. And the fact that Boselli was not one of 15 Hall finalists announced Thursday? That was wrong, too.

Absolutely. Positively.

He deserved better this year, and if you don't believe it, listen …

"My opinion, after watching Tony Boselli play during his NFL career, is that he is one of the best offensive tackles I have observed," Anthony Munoz says. "I believe Tony deserves a place in Canton, Ohio."

Echoed Gil Brandt, "He belongs in the Hall of Fame. No question about it."

Munoz to many is the best left tackle. Ever. Brandt has scouted NFL players for the better part of five decades. When it comes to their thoughts on Boselli, they're not alone.

"Seeing a lot of great football players during my career, Tony Boselli was one of them and absolutely deserves to be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Willie Roaf, a Hall of Fame left tackle for the Saints and Chiefs from 1993-2005.

Yes, the guy belongs in the Hall. Why is he not in yet? There are a few theories.

One is he never played in a Super Bowl and that his profile was relatively low because he played in a small market. The thought here is the former matters more than the latter, but perhaps both are factors.

He also played just a little more than six full seasons. That's the big one you hear – and at first glance, it has some merit. Boselli, after all, played just 91 games before shoulder injuries ended his Jaguars career. He was selected by the Houston Texans in the 2002 expansion draft but never played for Houston.

It was a classic case of an all-time career cut short, but this isn't about what Boselli could have been had he played longer.

No, this is about what he was when he played. He was a Hall of Famer. And we don't mean "He Would Have Been a Hall of Famer Had He Played Longer." He was a Hall of Famer good and true – even considering the length of his career.

Five Pro Bowls. Three All-Pro appearances. Membership on the 1990s NFL All-Decade team. He is, in fact, the only offensive player on that All-Decade team not already in the Hall.

More than the accolades, it was the eye test. He was the best player on a very good team. He was nasty, strong, agile. He was put on this earth to play left tackle. He was that gifted, and he worked to take advantage of the gift.

And as for the longevity, it's an argument that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Dwight Stephenson, a Hall of Fame center, started 87 games and made five Pro Bowls. Gale Sayers, a Hall of Fame running back, played 68 games. How do you compare greatness? How do you compare positions? It's almost impossible, and Stephenson and Sayers indeed were among the best to play their positions.

But Boselli was, too.

That's why hope is not lost. In fact, it's far from lost and that it actually may be closer than ever.

While Boselli wasn't named a finalist this year, he was named a semifinalist for the first time in eight seasons of eligibility. Far from being forgotten, you get the idea that Boselli is being re-remembered – and for his Hall chances, that's a good thing.

The Hall of Fame voting process isn't universally popular. There are 46 Hall of Fame voters, all media members, and they vote for the Hall the day before each Super Bowl. In the weeks leading to the finalist announcement, those same voters voted for the 15 finalists.

The good news for Boselli is a lot of those voters considered him this time around. Many who released their ballots publicly included him. That means he's being considered. Being on the semifinalist list, means he must be considered. It means voters will discuss him. It gets him "in the room," so to speak.

That's good for Boselli, because the more voters consider him, the better. The more he's discussed, the better for Boselli. He was that good.

It's hard to say long Boselli will have to wait. The Hall can be a long process, and there is of course no guarantee that being a semifinalist means one day being enshrined.

But the guess here is Boselli will get in some day. And when he does, that will be a fun View to write. And it will be long, long overdue.

Actually, it already is.

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