JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli had been hoping for the knock on the door for six years, but when it finally came, he wasn’t really prepared.
So when he opened the door and Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munuz was standing there in his gold jacket to tell Boselli that he had finally made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Boselli kind of froze for a second.
“I was like, ‘OK, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do here,’” Boselli said. “I'm supposed to smile, cry, collapse, jump up and down, cheer ... but that was a moment that just hit me. I was like, ‘Wow.’
“I just sat there stunned. I was just hugging people. They were asking me questions. I'm like, I don't know what to say. Like what do you say? Rarely do I have a lack of words. And rarely do I not have something to say or an opinion -- and this is one that's got me [speechless]."
For the record, Boselli hugged Munoz, too. Then he celebrated with his family and friends who had gathered with him to wait to see if he would make the Hall in his sixth time as a finalist. The five previous times, he had gotten a phone call to tell him that unfortunately he hadn’t -- but now his wait is finally over.
That door knock was one of several “I’m actually in the Hall of Fame!” moments that Boselli has already had, and he’s looking forward to the ones he knows he’ll have over the next sixth months that will end with the enshrinement ceremony in August in Canton, Ohio.
Walking out onto the stage at the NFL Honors show Thursday night to be introduced as part of the Hall of Fame’s class of 2022 was another one of those moments. Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith announcing Boselli’s name made it a little more special, too, because Boselli’s Hall of Fame career got off to its start against Smith in the franchise’s first playoff game in 1996 in Buffalo.
Smith had racked up 13.5 sacks and 90 tackles that season on the way to being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but he managed just three tackles in the Jaguars' 30-27 upset of the Buffalo Bills. Boselli stumped Smith, essentially by himself.
“When Bruce Smith was the one introducing me, it was like this is the way it's supposed to be,” Boselli said. “Walking out there and hearing my name and then saying, you know, Pro Football Hall of Famer, that right there I was like, ‘Oh, my.’ That was a big moment.
“… I've been on the other side of that, sitting in the Honors, watching the Hall of Famers up there. And I always wondered what that would feel like, and it felt pretty damn good, if I'm being honest.”
Boselli’s next Hall moment will come Saturday, when he’s measured for his ring and gold jacket. That’s also when they’ll start the process of creating his bust.
“They better have a lot of clay because I’ve got a big head -- or bronze, whatever they make it out of,” Boselli joked.
There’s another Hall moment that Boselli is anticipating: getting back to Jacksonville after the Super Bowl and being able to thank fans, friends and everyone in the city for supporting him throughout his career on the field, as part of the Jaguars’ radio broadcast team, and now as a Hall of Famer.
“The city of Jacksonville, the people of Jacksonville, their support is meaningful,” Boselli said. “That's why I said earlier I look forward to finding an opportunity to come back and celebrate in the right way with all those people, and I look forward to being around town. I look forward to walking around and getting those high-fives and handshakes and words of encouragement.
“We have a great fan base. We have people who live in Jacksonville. They're so supportive. They always have been of my family from the moment I got there in 1995. They've made it feel like home.”