The former Buffalo Bills legendary pass rusher Bruce Smith made it clear that he does not want former Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli inducted into the Hall of Fame by posting a five-page essay on his Instagram page on Tuesday, June 14.
Smith, who played 19 seasons in the NFL, and made league history as the only player to record 200 sacks, 171 of them during his tenure in Buffalo, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. The 58-year-old, who was the Bills’ No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, believes the Hall of Fame would set “a horrible precedent” by inducting Boselli
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“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 in his statement, referring to Jacksonville’s 30-27 AFC Wild Card win at Buffalo.
“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 the qualification into the HOF. But on a more serious level, I and other HOFers believe it sets a terrible precedent to negatively zero in on a standing member of the Hall’s play in order to validate the candidacy of a nominee.”
Smith doesn’t name the other Hall of Famers who object to Boselli’s induction, but states the HOF “follows a tacit code of conduct which fosters respect and brotherhood between its members,” and that “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.”
NFL Analysts & Fans Slammed Smith for His ‘Classless’ Attack on Boselli
Smith, who only joined Instagram two months ago, faced major backlash after posting his plea against Boselli. His words angered and confused analysts across the league, especially since Smith offered Boselli such a warm introduction during the 2022 NFL Honors.
CBS Sports senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco tweeted, “Bruce Smith got abused by Tony Boselli. Now he’s taking shots? Class act. PS — he didn’t even shake Boselli’s hand after being dominated and wouldn’t comment on that game for years.”
Jaguars radio host Frank Frangie tweeted, “Tony Boselli kicked Bruce Smith’s a**. Tony never talks about that game, just did his job, as usual. Even seems embarrassed when asked about it. He’s one of the best LTs ever. Whether Bruce likes it or not. Truly deserves HOF. That is all. Have a good day.”
However, the most incensed reaction came from Florida-Times Union reporter Gene Frenette, who responded with his own lengthy op-ed, calling Smith’s Instagram post “classless.” Frenette wrote that “beyond the head-scratching motive… [Smith] employs a highly suspect judgement to make the case for why Boselli doesn’t belong in Canton.”
Rick Gosselin, a Hall of Fame voter from Dallas, told Frenette of Smith’s controversial note, “I don’t know what triggered this in the middle of June. The whole thing is so disappointing and petty. I don’t know what Bruce is thinking. It doesn’t matter how Tony got there. The committee decided he was worthy of a jacket and a bust.”
Following the heavy criticism, Smith disabled the comments section on his Instagram post.
Smith Also Takes Issue With the Fact Boselli Only Played Six Full Seasons
While Smith caught a lot of flack for his disparaging comments on Boselli, the Jaguars’ No. 2 overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, one part of his argument, that his six full seasons in the league isn’t enough for a Hall of Fame induction, did receive some support. Smith wrote:
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 Burnell’s blindside, while Tony benefitted from protecting the extremely talented, mobile left-handed quarterback.
One man tweeted, “100% agree with Bruce Smith regarding Tony Boselli not deserving to be in the HOF. Guy played a whopping 6 years that would be like putting Jake Long in the HOF,” while another fan wrote, “I agree with Bruce Smith that Big Searce doesn’t get enough love for protecting Brunell’s blindside but brother you’re being a board-certified hater rn.”
However, numerous people pointed out that Boselli’s career was cut short “by a soulder injury complicated by a failed surgery,” as reported by SI’s Clark Judge. While Boselli only appeared in 91 games, he was a three-time first-team NFL All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. Clark notes that Hallf of Famer Terrell Davis only appeared in 86 games, and Kenny Easley played in 95 games.
Boselli, 50, opened up to Clark about his brif career in February. “What I can control was when I played. It’s not my fault that I got hurt, and the surgery made it worse. It’s not like I walked away because I was tired of it or couldn’t throw the ball anymore or for whatever reason people leave their profession. It was taken away from me at some level.”
After missing the Hall of Fame final cuts five times, Boselli is incredibly grateful for the honor. “This is amazing, and, trust me: I wanted to be a Hall of Famer. Because it’s recognizing my career and what I did on the football field.”
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