Bruce Smith chafed over Tony Boselli’s hall of fame campaign

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bruce Smith still isn’t a fan of Tony Boselli.

The former Buffalo Bills pass rusher took to Instagram on Tuesday morning with a lengthy post, saying he’d been quiet for too long on the Pro Football Hall of Fame-bound Boselli. Smith took issue with what he perceived to be a negative and underhanded campaign against him in the case to bolster Boselli’s credentials.

The former Jaguars left tackle was elected to the Hall last February and will be inducted in August. He’s the first Jacksonville player to earn enshrinement in Canton.

And Smith, who stonewalled Boselli during a 1996 playoff game, is still chafed that he was a central figure in Boselli’s storyline. Smith said the tactics employed by those championing Boselli for Canton were “underhanded” because they were honored in that single-game performance, and tried to portray Smith in a negative way in order to elevate Boselli. That’s not hall of fame etiquette, Smith said.


“A large part of the campaign to promote Tony Boselli into the Hall of Fame seems to hyper focus on a single successful performance he had against me in a 1996 playoff game,” Smith wrote. “On the one hand, I’m quite flattered to be considered the gold standard by which another player’s game can be measured to determine his qualification into the HOF. But on a more serious level, I and other HOFers believe it sets a horrible precedent to negatively zero in on a standing member of the Hall’s play in order to validate the candidacy of a nominee.

“The HOF is an exclusive fraternity that follows a tacit code of conduct which fosters respect and brotherhood between its members. Given the opportunity, any Hall of Famer could use his credentials to boast about his dominance over another member, but such behavior is deemed inappropriate because of the friction and discord it could create within the group. Maintaining harmony and goodwill in the HOF is paramount, and it is precisely why player campaigns have historically been presented respectfully and thoughtfully, allowing the candidate’s stats and complete body of work to speak resoundingly for itself.


“Resorting to underhanded tactics, like targeting a HOFer and hyping a one game matchup to bolster a nominee’s merit as some of Tony’s supporters have done, undermines the integrity of the Hall’s election process. It also invites otherwise unnecessary commentary and scrutiny around that candidate’s worthiness of becoming a member of the HOF. Since Tony’s advocates have slid headlong down this slippery slope and dragged me unwillingly along, I have a few thoughts to share.

“Tony was a formidable opponent during his brief career, but I find it difficult to compare the totality of his body of work with those of the NFL’s greatest left tackles. With the exception of the legendary Anthony Munoz; Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf, and Walter Jones all protected the blind side of the quarterback for 12 seasons or more. In Jacksonville, Leon Searcy bore the arduous task of protecting Mark Brunell’s blindside, while Tony benefited from protecting the extremely talented, mobile left handed quarterback.


“During my nineteen years in the NFL several outstanding LTs, such as Bruce Armstrong, Richmond Webb and Will Wilford, all had stellar games against me. Perhaps they too would be wise to build HOF campaigns highlighting that fact.”

Boselli went head-to-head with Smith, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, in Jacksonville’s first-ever playoff game in 1996. The Jaguars stunned Buffalo 30-27, a game that raised Boselli’s national profile significantly.

Smith had 13.5 sacks and 90 tackles that season. Smith had just three tackles in that playoff game and was a nonfactor.

Boselli, who was selected no. 2 overall in the 1995 draft out of Southern Cal for the Jaguars expansion, played left tackle for the team until 2001. The knock on Boselli’s candidacy was never his production, it was a shortened resume.

Boselli was a five-time Pro Bowl pick and a three-time All-Pro selection.

Shoulder injuries cut his career short.


Boselli played 91 regular season games and six in the playoffs with Jacksonville. He was left unprotected by the team in the 2002 expansion draft and was picked No. 1 overall by the Texans. Boselli never played a down with Houston and retired that year.

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