It’s a tough task to select a Pro Football Hall of Fame class. It takes dozens of hours of studying a player’s career, interviewing former coaches and opponents, and plenty of heated debates. Simply, getting in is no walk in the park and those that ultimately make it are deserving of the honor. Earlier this year, former Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli was finally inducted after several tries, and while Jags fans were ecstatic to see one of the franchise’s most prominent alumni finally get enshrined, not everyone is pleased.
HOF defensive end Bruce Smith recently shared on social media his displeasure with Boselli’s induction. He argues that the left tackle’s case was built on a “single successful performance” he had in a 1996 playoff game and while he’s flattered he’s the bar others have to hurdle, he isn’t thrilled Boselli got in.
"On the one hand, I’m quite flattered to be considered the old 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 Hal”s play in order to validate the candidacy of a nominee."
Smith wasn’t done though, and he went on to say that hyping a player’s performance in a single game leaves a stain on the selection process.
"Resorting to underhanded tactics, like targeting a Hoffer 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."
The game Smith is referring to is the Jaguars’ 30-27 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a 1996 playoff game. In that game, the Hall of Fame defensive end was neutralized and held to a measly three tackles and two total pressures. Looking at that kind of statline, it’s easy to see why Smith might not like people to bring it up. Here’s Smith’s social media post, via Jamal St. Cyr of News4JAX.
Bruce Smith is oversimplifying the induction of Jaguars legend Tony Boselli
Again, inducting a player into the Hall of Fame is an arduous process and there are times candidates have to wait for years before getting a shot. Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith and running back Fred Taylor know this better than anyone. And it isn’t because they are unworthy of getting a gold jacket. It’s just that there’s always a new batch of players trying to get in, and some of them might have a stronger case than others. If voters had to choose between Tom Brady and Fred Taylor, who do you think would get the nod?
It’s hard to tell what prompted Smith to talk about his displeasure with Boselli’s induction. Maybe he got annoyed after several voters inquired with him about that 1996 playoff game. But regardless of the reason, he’s oversimplifying the process. If players got enshrined because of one performance, former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree would be in the HOF for making the game-changing catch with his helmet in Super Bowl 42. The same is true for former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mike Jones, who made a game-saving tackle of Tennesse Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl 34.
Moreover, that play didn’t define Boselli’s career. From 1995 to 2000, the left tackle earned three First-Team All-Pro designations and five Pro Bowl nods. He joined the Houston Texans in 2002 via the expansion draft but never played a down for them due to a shoulder injury that cut his NFL career short. Had Boselli stayed healthy, he would have likely racked up more accolades. Last but not least, it’s important to remember that other players also had short (but dominant) careers and still made it. Running backs Terrell Davis and Gayle Sanders come to mind but there far from the only ones.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t flawless but and they might have made mistakes in the past, but Smith’s case for Boselli’s lack of credentials isn’t particularly strong. More than anything, it sounds like someone who disagrees with the committee’s decision and sounded off. Was it wrong? Of course not, he’s free to share his opinion, even if it’s flawed in this case.