Bruce Smith: Tony Boselli’s Hall of Fame campaign undermined the integrity of the Hall
Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, and another Hall of Famer doesn’t seem too happy about that.
Bruce Smith, the Bills great who is the only player in NFL history with 200 sacks, wrote in a lengthy statement on Instagram that he doesn’t consider Boselli among the most accomplished left tackles in NFL history, and also took issue with the focus of Boselli’s Hall of Fame campaign on a particularly good playoff game that Boselli had against Smith.
“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.”
Every year scores of Hall of Famers attend the induction ceremony to welcome the new class. Smith doesn’t sound enthused about welcoming Boselli to the fraternity.