NFL legend Bruce Smith questions whether Tony Boselli belongs in HOF

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Bruce Smith is one of the greatest defensive linemen in NFL history.

Smith is the lone defensive player with 200 sacks — whether on the official or unofficial list. Smith was an 11-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time First Team All-Pro choice. He won the Defensive Player of the Year award multiple times — four for UPI and two for AP.

The former Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins, using his bonafides, spoke out against former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Smith released one large message on his Instagram, saying Boselli making it to Canton “sets a horrible precedent.”

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Offensive Tackle Tony Boselli #71 of the Jacksonville Jaguars received instruction from the sideline prior to getting into position at the line of scrimmage in a NFL game with the Baltimore Ravens at PSINet Stadium on Sept. 10, 2000 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Offensive Tackle Tony Boselli #71 of the Jacksonville Jaguars received instruction from the sideline prior to getting into position at the line of scrimmage in a NFL game with the Baltimore Ravens at PSINet Stadium on Sept. 10, 2000 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Michael J. Minardi/Getty Images)

“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. 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,” Smith began.

“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.

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Offensive tackle Tony Boselli #71 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in action against defensive end Bruce Smith #78 of the Buffalo Bills during the game at the Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the Jaguars 17-16.

Offensive tackle Tony Boselli #71 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in action against defensive end Bruce Smith #78 of the Buffalo Bills during the game at the Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the Jaguars 17-16.
(Getty Images)

“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.”

Smith said Boselli benefited from protecting left-handed quarterback Mark Brunell while Leon Searcy guarded the blindside.

“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,” Smith added.

“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.”

Defensive lineman Bruce Smith #78 of the Buffalo Bills looks on from the sideline during a game against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium on October 24, 1993 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Defensive lineman Bruce Smith #78 of the Buffalo Bills looks on from the sideline during a game against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium on October 24, 1993 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

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Boselli played for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995 to 2001. He played three games in 2001 before getting selected by the Houston Texans in their expansion draft in 2002 and later retiring because of injury. He was a three-time All-Pro First Team selection and five-time Pro Bowler. He was named to Hall of Fame’s All-1990s Team.

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