Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boselli Leaves Indelible Mark on Jags, NFL

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boselli Leaves Indelible Mark on Jags, NFL

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

The saddest part about Tony Boselli's retirement from pro football, other than his career ending way too soon, is that the NFL loses one of its few true giants.

Boselli's legacy will primarily be as the cornerstone of the Jaguars' franchise during those initial glory years. But he distinguished himself for reasons beyond his reputation as one of the league's best offensive linemen.

More than anything else, the 6-foot-7, 322-pound tackle embodied what many fans see too little of in NFL players: a relentless passion for the game.

Yes, during his seven seasons in Jacksonville and one rehabilitating year with the Houston Texans, Boselli pocketed millions of dollars for having some of the quickest feet that God ever put on a man of his size.

However, the indelible mark that Boselli leaves isn't what he took from the game. It's what he gave to it. No Jaguars player was a bigger force in willing this city's NFL franchise to instant respectability. And that in no way is meant to diminish the contributions of Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith, Fred Taylor or Keenan McCardell during the 1996-99 playoff run.

It's just that Boselli's presence was that overwhelming. He oozed leadership. He commanded respect from teammates in the locker room and opponents on the field because his motor never idled when it was time to work.

"That was one of the things that separated Tony from most good football players," said former Jaguars offensive line coach Mike Maser, now with the Carolina Panthers. "He had an overwhelming desire to be the very best at whatever he was doing. He made everyone else play better because they saw how hard he worked in practice, in the game and when he was rehabilitating.

"You knew Tony was the lead dog and players took messages from his example. …

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