Tony Boselli’s long wait ended Thursday night when he was selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Boselli, 49, grew up in Boulder and attended Fairview High School and is believed to be only the third Colorado native (raised in the state) to make the Hall, joining Dutch Clark and Jack Christiansen.
Boselli was elected in his sixth consecutive year as a modern-era finalist. Also elected were receiver Cliff Branch, safety LeRoy Butler, linebacker Sam Mills, official Art McNally, coach Dick Vermeil and defensive linemen Bryant Young and Richard Seymour.
Former Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware was not selected in his first year of eligibility.
The class was revealed during the NFL Honors ceremony in Los Angeles and Hall of Fame pass rusher Bruce Smith introduced Boselli.
The inductees were informed nearly two weeks ago of their honor through surprise visits by Hall of Fame officials and in Boselli’s case, an NFL legend.
“We were at a friend’s house and there is a knock at the door and my buddy says, ‘Hey can you go get the door for me?’” Boselli said. “I open it up and it’s (Pro Football Hall of Fame left tackle) Anthony Munoz. In my opinion, he’s the greatest ever to play the position I played and someone I looked up to.”
Boselli, the first member of the Jacksonville Jaguars to earn Hall of Fame honors, and the Class of 2022 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6.
“It’s a huge honor,” Boselli said of being the first Jaguars player headed to the Hall. “To be able to represent that organization … it is something I’m proud of. I take seriously representing the organization and it’s something I love. People ask me all the time, ‘Do you wish you had gone to the Packers or the Patriots, these great, historical franchises,’ and I said, ‘I’m good with the Jaguars. I’m good.’ I like representing them.”
Helping Boselli’s case was a reduced pool of offensive line candidates. Since he first became a finalist in 2017, Boselli has seen center Kevin Mawae (’19), Steve Hutchinson (’20) and Alan Faneca (’21) win enshrinement.
The second overall pick by the expansion Jaguars in 1995, Boselli missed only eight games in his first six pro seasons, but a left shoulder injury limited him to three games in 2001. The Houston Texans selected him first overall in the ’02 expansion draft, but he never played a game for the club because of injury.
Boselli allowed 15 1/2 sacks in his seven pro seasons and helped the Jaguars to two AFC championship games. He was a Pro Bowl selection from 1996-2000 and an All-Pro honoree from 1997-99.
Boselli’s 91 career games is tied with George Conner and Bob Waterfield for No. 271 in most games played by a Hall of Famer, the short career similar to Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who played 78 games and was inducted in 2017.
Ware would have extended the Broncos’ streak of Hall selections to four consecutive years, following owner Pat Bowlen/cornerback Champ Bailey (2019), safety Steve Atwater (2020) and quarterback Peyton Manning/safety John Lynch (2021).
After spending his first nine years in Dallas, Ware put an exclamation point on his career with three stellar seasons in Denver. He was a defensive anchor on the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 championship team.
In 37 games with Denver (33 starts), Ware posted 21 1/2 sacks and 26 tackles for loss to pad the 117-sack tally he accumulated in Dallas. When the Cowboys released him after the 2013 season, Ware landed with the Broncos as a free agent, and immediately bolstered the team’s pass rush while also serving as a mentor to fellow outside linebacker Von Miller.
“He came to Denver at a vital point in my life, when I was coming off ACL surgery and really just trying to find myself again,” Miller said earlier this week. “I thought I knew what it took to be a superstar in this league, I thought I knew what it took to be successful in this league. But I was wrong because when DeMarcus got there, his locker was right across from me and (he showed me). … I’m really just a product of DeMarcus. I came from the DeMarcus Ware tree, and I’m probably one of the last ones. On and off the football field, he’s my idol.”
Ware ranks 13th all-time with 138 1/2 career sacks.
Staff writer Kyle Newman contributed to this story.