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View from the O-Zone: Savoring the moment


HOUSTON, Texas – He's thinking about it from time to time, because how could he not?

This is football immortality we're talking about, after all – this thing that might happen on Saturday for the best player ever to play for the Jaguars.

So, is Tony Boselli thinking Hall of Fame this week?

Is Saturday's Super Bowl-Eve vote that could get Boselli into pro football's most exclusive fraternity at least somewhat on his mind as he works Super Bowl LI for Westwood One? Absolutely. Because how could it not be?

But nerves?

Nah, Boselli said he's not there yet.

"I'm not anxious, and I'm not nervous yet," Boselli said Wednesday during an appearance on live from Super Bowl LI Radio Row. "I think I will be come Saturday."

Here's one thing to know about Boselli, a five-time Pro Bowl, three-time All-Pro left tackle and the first player ever inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars: he deserves to get in to the Hall. And he indeed has a real chance to get in this year; conversations with Hall voters this week indicate momentum is very much in his favor.

Another thing to know is he's doing his best not to read or think about it – though with media asking endless questions about the topic this week, that isn't easy.

But mostly, know this:

Whether or not he is one of five modern-era finalists voted into the '17 Hall class Saturday, he truly is honored to be this far in a long, difficult process.

Yes, Boselli is enjoying the week, savoring the moment. Deservedly so.

"What an honor – just to get this far," Boselli said. "It gets tiresome at times, and don't me wrong: I'll be ready for Saturday to come and I hope it works out – and if it doesn't, fine. The fun part is for my kids. My boys were born when I played, but they were so little, they don't remember.

"For them to be able to say, 'Dad, you were good,' and for them to hear people say things about you … that's neat for me as a dad – to see my kids light up when they see their dad being talked about. That doesn't happen often, so this has been very positive."

Boselli, the only offensive player on the NFL's 1990s All-Decade team not yet in the Hall, has talked to many media outlets this week, and he has talked to a few Hall voters. Such media types are unavoidable in the carnival that is Radio Row.

But what Boselli said he's not doing is "lobbying" – and he's not doing it for a very simple reason.

"I will never politic for this," Boselli said. "I have too much respect for the Hall of Fame, and for the guys in that room. I have too much respect for the voters. The guys who are already in Canton – I respect them too much. There's a process and everybody's had to go through it.

"There are 15 guys who are finalists, which means 14 guys besides me. Every one of them can make an argument why they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. If I'm one of those five … huge honor. If I'm not, that's part of the process. I'm not going to sit back and say, 'Oh, my gosh, how does he get in?'

"No, he had a great career. The people in that room voted for him to get in. He deserves to be there."

Boselli is further along in the process than ever. After retiring following the 2002 season, he became eligible for the Hall in 2007. He first made the list of 25 semifinalists in 2016. This year is his first appearance in the final 15.

The Hall selection committee will meet Saturday morning with candidates needing votes from 40 of 48 voters for induction. Voters discussing Boselli this week have talked about Boselli having real momentum, which is key in the process. It's also important that Boselli is now "in the room," which means he is among the final 15, which means his candidacy will be discussed extensively and officially by the voters for the first time.

Will he get in this season? Many voters think there's a real chance, at least 50-50. The argument against is longevity, with Boselli having played just seven full seasons before shoulder problems cut his career short.

The arguments for are more compelling. He was a dominant left tackle in the NFL's Golden Era for the position. His talent, voters will tell you, is unquestioned. Had he played a few years longer, he long since would have been enshrined.

The overall vibe for Boselli couldn't be more positive. Most voters interviewed this week believe Boselli will get in eventually, if not this season.

As for Boselli, he's doing his best not to think too much about the end of the week. At the same time, he's enjoying that week, and savoring a phenomenally special moment. And deservedly so.

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