Who knows why legendary NFL pass rusher Bruce Smith inexplicably decided less than two months before Tony Boselli’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame to disparage his pick in Canton, but he has to be among the examples. of all time poor sportsmanship.
For reasons known only to Smith, the NFL’s all-time leader with 200 sacks for the Buffalo Bills and Washington, who competed directly against the Jaguars’ left tackle in the 1990s, took to his Instagram account Monday. at night and used some incredibly disconcerting verbiage. to explain why Boselli was not in the Hall of Fame.
The crux of the Smith issue was his misperception that Boselli entered the Hall of Fame largely for winning a head-to-head matchup with Smith in the 1996 playoffs, not for his overall job, which was limited to 91 games. (1995-2001) due to career-ending shoulder injuries.
“A large part of the campaign to promote Tony Boselli to the Hall of Fame seems to be very focused on a single successful performance he had against me in a 1996 playoff game,” Smith wrote in his statement, referring to the mark of Jaguars 30-27. AFC wild card playoff win at Buffalo. “On the one hand, I’m pretty flattered to be considered the gold standard by which another player’s game can be measured to determine HOF qualification.
“But on a more serious level, I and other HOFers believe it sets a terrible precedent to negatively focus on a permanent member of the Hall’s handiwork to validate a nominee’s candidacy.”
Who exactly are these “other HOFers” who believe Boselli came to Canton in his sixth year as a game-based finalist? Beyond Smith’s puzzling motive for denigrating a Hall of Famer, he employs highly suspect judgment to argue why Boselli doesn’t belong in Canton.
Smith essentially called out both Boselli and his supporters under the mistaken premise that the Jaguars tackle’s performance against Buffalo in that playoff game was a huge boost to his eventual Hall of Fame selection.
Many words come to mind to describe the tenor of Smith’s message to Boselli: despicable, naive, disgusting, amazing, unseemly, and classless.
LeRoy Butler: ‘Why rain on your parade?’
Just read the most incredulous part of Smith’s statement, which reads: “The HOF is an exclusive fraternity that follows an unspoken code of conduct that fosters respect and brotherhood among its members. Given the opportunity, any Hall of Fame member could use her credentials to brag about her dominance over another member, but such behavior is considered inappropriate due to the friction and discord it could create within the group.
“Maintaining harmony and goodwill in the HOF is paramount, and that is precisely why player campaigns have historically been presented with respect and consideration, allowing the candidate’s stats and full work to speak resoundingly for themselves.
“Using covert tactics, such as targeting a HOFer and hyping a one-game matchup to bolster a nominee’s merit as some of Tony’s supporters have done, undermines the integrity of the Hall’s election process.”
Hey Bruce, isn’t this harebrained work on Boselli’s Hall of Fame worth a prime example of not fostering brotherhood and respect among members?
Isn’t he creating friction and discord within the Hall of Fame by issuing such a deeply unfounded statement about Boselli?
If maintaining harmony and goodwill among the Hall of Fame group is “primary,” how does that accomplish accusing Boselli’s supporters of “covert tactics” and the process by which he was elected?
Without a doubt, Smith went off the rails with this post. He jumped on the shark with his intricate thought process.
“I bet I had 20 people call me who were angry (about Smith’s statement),” said LeRoy Butler, a Jacksonville native and former Green Bay Packers safety who will be inducted with Boselli into the Class of 2022. supposed to have when you’re a member of the Hall of Fame. It’s embarrassing because Tony is a great guy and he doesn’t deserve it. Why rain on your parade?
“(Smith) was stepping on his own message. Damn, how can someone wake up one day and just do that?”
HOF voters ridicule Smith
Let’s also remember that Smith was the first to publicly announce Boselli’s enshrinement in the NFL honors program, adding to his impressive Instagram post. That prompted Butler to say, “So when I was being nice to Tony, was I being fake?”
Butler wasn’t the only person with Hall of Fame connections who was totally taken aback by Smith downplaying Boselli’s enshrining credentials.
Rick Gosselin, a distinguished NFL writer and Dallas Hall of Fame voter, as well as the statistical keeper of all inducted players, said, “I don’t know what triggered this in mid-June. Everything is so disappointing and petty. I don’t know what bruce [Smith] He is thinking.
“It doesn’t matter how Tony got there. The committee decided he was worthy of a jacket and a bust.”
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John McClainthe Houston Chronicle’s recently retired NFL columnist/writer and voting member for 27 years, took offense to Smith’s suggestion that voters put Boselli in Canton largely in a playoff matchup against the all-time sacks leader league times.
“I don’t remember Bruce Smith’s name being mentioned in our Zoom meeting about the Class of 2022,” McClain said. “He Maybe he was in the bathroom.
“Tony deserves (to be inducted). It’s about time we brought him in. The only reason he didn’t come in sooner was the longevity issue. When he was healthy, he was the best in the game (at tackle). .”
Jacksonville’s only Hall of Fame voter, retired WJXT-Channel 4 sportscaster Sam Kouvaris, was also upset that Smith suggested that Boselli’s choice was largely due to her winning matchups against him. He added that Boselli’s resume also includes success against Hall of Famers Derrick Thomas and Jason Taylor, and Boselli distinguished himself in a golden era of left tackles that included Jonathan Ogden, Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Willie Roaf. . They all have busts in Canton.
“It’s a little cocky (for Smith) to say he’s in the Hall of Fame ‘because he beat me,'” Kouvaris said. “That’s certainly not how Tony performed in a game.
“Bruce has always had a quirky, quirky personality. The only way to quantify how guys performed is how they played against other great players.”
Boselli takes the right path
It’s a credit to Boselli, who is no doubt upset that Smith created this unnecessary firestorm, that he took the right path and didn’t add to the unwarranted drama.
Boselli told ESPN that he had the “utmost respect” for Smith, acknowledging that he is one of the best players in the NFL and that the games he played are “recorded for anyone to see,” but didn’t add anything else. Boselli later told the Florida Times-Union via text message that he didn’t want to say anything else on the matter.
Hall of Fame President Jim Porter stayed out of the fray in his statement to the Times-Union, saying, “The Hall of Fame supports the decisions that its Selection Committee makes, and those voters have determined that Bruce and Tony are in the top 362 to play.” , train or contribute to the game. The Hall celebrates and preserves the legacy of each enshrined.”
Hopefully, this social media tirade of one Hall of Famer against another will dissipate quickly. Boselli, who planned to begin crafting his Hall of Fame speech Wednesday on a flight to London to promote the Jaguars’ game against the Denver Broncos, doesn’t deserve to have any awkwardness accompanying his induction on Aug. 6 and into the weekend. of celebration.
“(Smith) had to have known this was going to cause some smoke,” Butler said. “You don’t make a statement like that without thinking it through. We’re only 362. You’d think they’d stick together. We’re all on the same team.”
“I’m disappointed. I hope Bruce apologizes and we move on.”
Boselli deserves a sincere apology from Smith. For a Hall of Fame pass-rusher who has been duly honored for his accomplishments, this was a sad move.
Gene Frenette is a sports columnist for the Florida Times-Union, follow him on Twitter @genefrenette. He can be reached by email at Gfrenette@jacksonville.com and by phone: (904) 359-4540.