Fairview graduate and decorated former NFL football player Tony Boselli has been down this road before.
A finalist to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the past four years without getting in, Boselli is back among the finalists yet again for the Class of 2021. After the year he has had, which included a ferocious bout with COVID-19 that sent him to the hospital for a week, Boselli is hoping that the fifth time’s the charm and that he will finally join a legendary group of his peers in the Hall.
“Every time you get to this point, you appreciate it, for sure,” Boselli said. “It’s an honor just to be included. You look at the list and there are 14 other guys who were great players and deserve to be Hall of Famers. And you have a chance to become a Hall of Famer, which is ultimately the goal for all of us and would be really special.”
Being selected to enter the Hall of Fame certainly would be a welcome end to a calendar year that has challenged Boselli in many of the same ways it has everyone else throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In late March, Boselli, 48, tested positive for coronavirus and his symptoms were severe. The former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle spent five days in the hospital, including some time in the ICU at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. Six of Boselli’s seven immediate family members also tested positive for COVID-19, including his wife, Angie, and son, Andrew, who is an offensive lineman at Florida State University.
Boselli admitted that he is experiencing some understandable anxiety around his fifth attempt at getting into the Hall of Fame after not receiving a positive outcome the last four times. But last spring’s terrifying experience left Boselli with a newfound perspective on his Hall of Fame eligibility and life in general.
“It was a negative and positive experience,” Boselli said. “It was negative because I had to go through it and so did my family. But the positive is that we got through it. It definitely makes you appreciate everything you have. Something like the Hall is a huge honor and it would absolutely be an honor and an important part of my legacy. But going through something like that makes you realize what’s really important and that is your family and loved ones.”
The other 2021 Modern-Era Player Finalists are Jared Allen, Ronde Barber, LeRoy Butler, Alan Faneca, Tory Holt, Calvin Johnson, John Lynch, Peyton Manning, Clay Matthews, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Zach Thomas, Reggie Wayne and Charles Woodson. The Class of 2021 will be revealed on Feb. 6.
Boselli was an All-American at the University of Southern California and was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the second overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. The team’s first-ever draft pick, Boselli played eight seasons in the NFL, was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and was named to the All-Pro first team three times.