JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith is upset that offensive tackle Tony Boselli’s fans are using Boselli’s dominating performance against Smith in a playoff game as one of the reasons Boselli was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The NFL career sack leader also hinted that Boselli didn’t belong in the Hall of Fame due to the length of his career and the fact that Boselli played with a left-handed quarterback and didn’t have to. protect the blind side.
“Much of the campaign to promote Tony Boselli to the Hall of Fame seems hyper-focused on a single successful performance he had against me in a 1996 playoff game,” Smith said in a statement posted on his official Instagram account. “On the one hand, I’m quite flattered to be considered the gold standard by which another player’s play can be measured to determine their qualification in the HOF. But on a more serious level, me and d “Other HOFers believe it sets a horrible precedent to focus negatively on a permanent member of the Hall’s play in order to validate a candidate’s candidacy.”
Boselli topped Smith in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 30-27 loss to the Buffalo Bills in an AFC wild card game on Dec. 28, 1996. Smith was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year that season- there after racking up 13.5 sacks and 90 tackles, but he only had three tackles and two quarterback pressures in the game at Buffalo.
But Smith said using that game as an argument for Boselli’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame is a “underhanded tactic.”
“HOF is an exclusive fellowship that follows an unspoken code of conduct that promotes respect and fellowship among its members,” Smith said in the statement. “Given the opportunity, any Hall of Fame member could use their credentials to brag about their dominance over another member, but such behavior is deemed inappropriate due to the friction and discord that he could create within the group. Maintaining harmony and goodwill within the HOF is paramount. , and this is precisely why player campaigns have always been presented with respect and thought, allowing statistics and overall work of the candidate to speak resoundingly about themselves.
“Using underhanded tactics, such as targeting a HOFer and promoting a one-game match to bolster a candidate’s merit as some of Tony’s supporters have done, undermines the integrity of the electoral process of the room. It also invites otherwise unnecessary comment and scrutiny around the value of this candidate to become a member of the HOF.”
Boselli went to five Pro Bowls, was named to the All-Pro First Team three times, was a member of the 1990s NFL All-Decade Team and allowed just 15.5 sacks in 91 games. career, but it was his performance against Smith that day that earned national recognition as one of the best players of his era.
“I have the utmost respect for Bruce Smith,” Boselli told ESPN. “He’s one of the greatest players to ever play football and he’s one of the many men I’ve played against in my career. I’ve played the games I’ve played , and they are all taped for everyone to watch. My career ended early due to a shoulder injury has been discussed a lot. I don’t have much to add on that.
Smith also said the length of Boselli’s career, which spanned from 1995 to 2001, means he doesn’t measure up to some of the best left tackles in the game such as Anthony Munoz, Willie Roaf and Walter Jones. . The fact that Boselli played with a left-handed quarterback is also a mark against him, Smith said.
“In Jacksonville, Leon Searcy had the daunting task of protecting Mark Brunell’s blindside, while Tony benefited from the protection of the extremely talented and mobile left-handed quarterback,” Smith said. “In my nineteen years in the NFL, several outstanding LTs, such as Bruce Armstrong, Richmond Webb and Will Wolford, have all had stellar games against me. Perhaps they too would be wise to create campaigns HOF to emphasize this fact.”
Smith, by the way, is the person who introduced Boselli as part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2022 to NFL honors on Feb. 10. Munoz, who is considered the best left tackle in NFL history, has always supported Boselli as a Hall of Famer, telling a Jacksonville radio station in 2020 that Boselli “deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. . … And people keep pointing fingers at the career; it wasn’t long. No, but he was the best when he played.”
Boselli will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 6 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, along with wide receiver Cliff Branch, safety LeRoy Butler, official Art McNally, linebacker Sam Mills, wing defensive tackle/defensive tackle Richard Seymour, coach Dick Vermeil and defensive tackle/defensive end Bryant Young.