Bruce Smith questions Tony Boselli about his Hall of Fame credentials

JACKSONVILLE (Fla.) — Hall of Fame defensive player Bruce Smith is angry that Tony Boselli's dominant performance against Smith in a playoff match has been used by supporters of Boselli as one of the main reasons Boselli was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Boselli was also criticized by the NFL's career leader in sacks. This is due to his long career and the fact Boselli didn't need to protect the blind side while playing with a left handed quarterback.

Smith posted a statement on his official Instagram account, saying that “a large part of our campaign to promote Tony Boselli to the Hall of Fame seems hyper-focus on one successful performance he had in a 1996 playoff match.” “On one hand, I am very humbled to be the gold standard for how another player's games can be measured in order to determine my qualification into the Hall of Fame. However, it's a bad precedent for a HOFer to adversely zero in on a Hall-member's play in order that a nominee can be validated.”

Smith was defeated by Boselli Jacksonville Jaguars‘ 30-27 upsets of the Buffalo Bills On Dec. 28, 1996, in an AFC wildcard game. Smith was the NFL's defensive player of the year that season. He had 13.5 sacks as well as 90 tackles. But he managed only three tackles and 2 quarterback pressures in that game in Buffalo.

Smith said that Boselli being inducted into the Hall of Fame by using this game to support his claim is an “underhanded tactic.”

Smith stated in his statement that the HOF was an exclusive fraternity which follows a tacit code to conduct that fosters brotherhood and respect between its members. Any Hall of Famer can boast of his dominance over any other member, but this behavior is considered inappropriate due to the potential for friction and discord within the group. The HOF must maintain harmony and goodwill. That is why all player campaigns are respectfully presented and considered.

“Returning to subtly tactics, such as targeting a HOFer or hyping one-game matchups to boost a nominee’s merit, undermines integrity of the Hall’s election process,” said Tony. It invites unnecessary scrutiny and commentary about whether the candidate is worthy of being a member.

Boselli was at five Pro Bowls, was first-team All-Pro three years, and was a member on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. His performance against Smith in that game earned him national recognition as one the most important players of his era.

Boselli stated that he has the greatest respect for Bruce Smith. Boselli said that Smith is “one of the greatest players ever to play the game” and was one of many men against whom he competed during his career. All the games that I played are available on tape. Many have discussed the fact that my shoulder injury ended my career early in life. “I don't have anything to add.”

Smith stated that Boselli's long career, which lasted from 1995 through 2001, doesn't compare to some of the top left tackles like Willie Roaf, Anthony Munoz, and Walter Jones. Smith also said that Boselli was a left-handed quarterback.

Smith explained that Leon Searcy in Jacksonville was charged with the difficult task of protecting Mark Brunell from his blind side. Tony, however, had the benefit of being able to protect the highly talented, left-handed quarterback. “During my nineteen-years in the NFL many outstanding LTs such as Bruce Armstrong and Richmond Webb had stellar games against us.” Smith said. It might be a good idea for them to also create HOF campaigns that highlight this fact.

Smith was, by the way. Smith introduced Boselli to the Hall of Fame's 2022 class at the NFL Honors in February. Munoz, considered the NFL's best left tackle, has supported Boselli in his bid to become a Hall of Famer. He told a Jacksonville radio station that Boselli “deserves” to be in the Hall of Fame in 2020. … People keep pointing at the career, it wasn't very long. But he was the best player when he played.”

Boselli, wide receiver Cliff Branch and safety LeRoy Butler will all be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

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