It happened again Saturday night. Former Jaguars great LT Tony Boselli waited by the phone for the call or a knock on the door with his family this time in a Minneapolis hotel room. Only the “knock” with Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker and cameras at the door, which indicates you got in, never came.
Instead it was the phone call that said, “close but not this year, again.”
Now, Boselli was not alone. As we wrote here, former Bucs great John Lynch got the same “you didn’t make it” call in his room Saturday evening. So did former Cowboys star DB, Everson Walls and several others who were finalists.
It’s the tough part of voting in anything. There are winners and then there are those that didn’t get the necessary votes.
There is obviously disappointment and even anger, in North Florida, as Boselli remains a popular icon. He was on those original Jaguars teams that rose to the playoffs and the door step of the Super Bowl twice in their first few seasons, and he and his teammates are beloved.
Pete Prisco, who covered those teams locally as a Jags beat writer, and is now a national football writer for CBS Sports.com, articulated well that he believes a flawed process of voting is what cost Boselli Saturday night.
Further, he blamed that the writers in the room, many of whom have been making the Hall of Fame voting decisions for 30-40 years, for being in a lot of ways “out of touch.”
He also suggested that the Hall of Fame have more inductee slots, available.
These are valid general concerns, but not necessarily true.
That’s because Prisco is not in the room for the discussions, and doesn’t know the actual merits of what someone was included for or excluded for, when it came time to vote.
That’s why the process is exclusive, with every NFL market having a rep. However, also the Pro Football Writers Association has 12 “at large” media members who are there, presumably with no team market bias. They give their thoughts and counter points in the discussion.
We at F.F.I. know and have talked to three different guys that are in that Hall of Fame voting room, regularly. They describe the discussions as thorough, and importantly, the writers are constantly comparing each player to contemporaries at their position. They have graphics, charts and other comparisons going on constantly for voter info, as there meeting regularly takes 8-9 hours to vote in the Hall class.
They aren’t perfect, but they also aren’t less informed because they don’t “watch game tape” regualrly, while evaluating.
No, in this case, it was more Boselli being compared to the likes of Orlando Pace, Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden. All of whom played his position in the same time frame and all of whom got the necessary 80% vote and have been put in, recently.
Some may have chosen right then and there, that Boselli is not as good or deserving as those that were put in already.
However, here’s the other factor here, too: what other players have joined the discussion for the first time, as being eligible?
Example, this year it was a lock that Randy Moss and Ray Lewis (shown above celebrating Saturday night) were going to take two of the five allotted spots, in their first time up for discussion. Throw in Brian Urlacher, who had a tremendous case, and it became, even more difficult for Boselli, et. al.
These are the truths. Boselli is qualified and should get in. Sometimes it’s a long process for players dictated by others eligible that voters simply feel are more qualified.
It took 17 years for Lynn Swann to make it.
The veterans committee of the Hall of Fame put 82 year old Jerry Kramer of the Packers in on Saturday night, and he waited 40 years, since becoming eligible.
It shouldn’t take Boselli, who was voted an “All Decade” player in the 1990’s by a lot of these same writers considering his Hall credentials, that much longer. We’ll see if it’s next year or soon.
But, it’s not just a flawed process that kept him out.
That process put others at his position in the Hall in the last five years.
It just hasn’t put Tony Boselli in yet.
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