Who knows why legendary NFL pass rusher Bruce Smith inexplicably decided less than two months before Tony Boselli was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame to belittle his Canton election, but it must be among the absolute examples of poor sportsmanship.
For reasons known only to Smith — the all-time NFL leader with 200 sacks for the Buffalo Bills and Washington, and who went head-to-head with the Jaguars’ left tackle in the 1990s — he took to his Instagram account Monday night and used incredibly puzzling words to explain why Boselli didn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
The crux of Smith’s point was his flawed perception that Boselli entered the Hall of Fame largely on the basis of winning a head-to-head match-up with Smith in the 1996 playoffs, not on his overall body of work, which was limited to 91 games (1995-2001) due to career-ending shoulder injuries.
“Much of the campaign to get Tony Boselli into the Hall of Fame seems to focus on a single successful performance he had against me in a playoff game in 1996,” Smith wrote in his statement, referring to the 30-27 of Jaguars. AFC wildcard playoff win in Buffalo. “On the one hand, I’m quite flattered to be considered the gold standard against which another player’s play can be measured to determine qualification for the HOF.
“But on a more serious level, I and other HOFers believe it sets a terrible precedent to go negatively on a standing member of the Hall’s play to validate a nominee’s candidacy.”
Who exactly are these “other HOFers” who believe Boselli made it to Canton as a finalist on a single game basis by age six? Aside from the mind-bending motive for Smith to denigrate a fellow Hall of Famer, he uses highly suspicious judgment to prove why Boselli doesn’t belong in Canton.
Smith essentially called out both Boselli and his supporters on the wrong assumption that the Jaguars’ performance against Buffalo in that playoff game was a major boost to his eventual Hall of Fame roster.
Many words come to my mind to describe the tenor of Smith’s message to Boselli: contemptible, naive, repulsive, astonishing, unseemly, and classless.
LeRoy Butler: ‘Why rain on his parade?’
Just read the most incredulous part of Smith’s statement, which reads: “The HOF is an exclusive fraternity that follows a tacit code of conduct that promotes respect and brotherhood among its members. Given the chance, any Hall of Famer can use his credentials to brag about his dominance over another member, but such behavior is considered inappropriate due to the friction and discord it can cause within the group.
“Maintaining harmony and goodwill in the HOF is paramount, and it is precisely why player campaigns have historically been presented respectfully and thoughtfully, allowing the candidate’s statistics and entire body of work to speak for themselves.
“Recourse to underhanded tactics, such as targeting a HOFer and hyped a one-match match-up to bolster a nominee’s merit, as some Tony supporters have done, undermines the integrity of the election process of the nominee. hello.”
Hey Bruce, isn’t this excessive looting of Boselli’s Hall of Fame a good example of not fostering brotherhood and respect among members?
Aren’t you creating friction and discord within the Hall of Fame by making such a deeply baseless statement about Boselli?
If maintaining harmony and goodwill among the Hall of Fame group is “of paramount importance”, how come Boselli supporters are accused of “backward tactics” and the process by which he was elected?
No doubt Smith was derailed with this posting. He jumped the shark with his intricate thought process.
“I bet I had 20 people call me who were pissed (about Smith’s statement),” said Jacksonville-born and former Green Bay Packers security guard LeRoy Butler, who is inducted with Boselli in the class of 2022.” There’s a decorum you should have when you’re a Hall of Famer It’s embarrassing because Tony is a great guy and doesn’t deserve it Why rain on his parade?
“(Smith) stepped on his own message. Damn it, how can someone wake up one day and just do that?”
HOF voters ridicule Smith
Also, let’s not forget that Smith was the first to publicly announce Boselli for anchoring in the NFL Honors program, which complemented his stunning Instagram post. That prompted Butler to say, “So when he was nice to Tony, was he fake?”
Butler wasn’t the only person with Hall of Fame connections who were totally baffled by Smith minimizing Boselli’s anchoring credentials.
Rick Gosselin, a leading NFL writer and Hall of Fame voter from Dallas, as well as the statistical gatekeeper of all privy players, said, “I don’t know what caused this in the middle of June. It’s all so disappointing and petty. I don’t know what Bruce [Smith] is thinking.
“It doesn’t matter how Tony got there. The committee decided he was worth a coat and a bust.’
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John McClainthe recently retired NFL columnist/writer of the Houston Chronicle and a 27-year-old voting member, took offense at Smith’s insinuation that voters largely put Boselli in one playoff match against the league’s all-time leader in Canton.
“I don’t recall Bruce Smith’s name being mentioned at our Zoom meeting on the Class of 2022,” McClain said. “Maybe I was in the toilet.
“Tony deserves to be inducted. It was about time we put him in. The only reason he didn’t come in sooner was longevity. When he was healthy he was the best in the game (at the tackle position) .”
Jacksonville’s lone Hall of Fame voter, retired WJXT-Channel 4 sports anchor Sam Kouvaris, was also upset that Smith suggested that Boselli’s election came largely because of winning matchups against him. He added that the Boselli resume also includes success against Hall of Famers Derrick Thomas and Jason Taylor, and Boselli distinguished himself in a golden era of left-wing tackles that included Jonathan Ogden, Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Willie Roaf. They all have busts in Canton.
“It’s a bit self-aggrandizing (for Smith) to point out that he’s in the Hall of Fame ‘because he beat me,'” Kouvaris said. “It’s definitely not how Tony performed in one match.
“Bruce has always had a spiky, quirky personality. The only way to quantify how guys performed is how they played against other great players.”
Boselli takes high road
It is credit to Boselli, who is no doubt angry that Smith created this unnecessary firestorm, that he took the main road and did not contribute to the unwarranted drama.
Boselli told ESPN he had “the utmost respect” for Smith, acknowledging that he is one of the NFL’s best players and that the games he played “are all on tape for everyone to watch,” but added nothing further. Boselli later told the Florida Times-Union via text message that he would not comment further.
Hall of Fame President Jim Porter lingered in his statement to the Times-Union, saying: “The Hall of Fame supports the decisions made by the selection committee, which voters have determined that Bruce and Tony are among the best 362 to play, coach or contribute to the game. The venue celebrates and preserves the legacy of each anchor.”
Hopefully this tirade from one Hall of Famer to another will soon pass. Boselli, who was scheduled to make his Hall of Fame address on Wednesday on a flight to London to promote the Jaguars’ game against the Denver Broncos, doesn’t deserve to have any unease with his inaugural and festive weekend at 6. August.
“(Smith) should have known this would create some smoke,” Butler said. “You don’t make such a statement without thinking about it. We are only 362. You would think they would stay together. We are all on the same team.
“I am disappointed. I would hope Bruce would apologize and we move on.”
Boselli deserves a heartfelt apology from Smith. For a Hall of Fame pass-rusher who has been duly honored for his achievements, this was a sad move.
Gene Frenette is a Florida Times-Union sports columnist, follow him on Twitter @genefrenette. He can be reached by email at Gfrenette@jacksonville.com and by phone: (904) 359-4540.