It’s not just fans and media who argue the merits of Pro Football Hall of Famers or the absence of others from the Hall.
The Hall of Famers themselves are not above such arguments.
Two members of the Hall voiced their opinions this week — Bruce Smith questioned the inclusion of Tony Boselli in the Class of 2022, while Brian Urlacher is upset about the exclusion of Zach Thomas.
Smith, the Buffalo Bills legend, wrote an in-depth statement on his Instagram page Tuesday questioning the decision of voting Boselli, the former Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle, into this year’s Hall of Fame class.
Smith was enshrined in 2009. He is the NFL’s all-time sack leader. He takes exception to part of the campaign for Boselli to be in the Hall of Fame was one Jaguars-Bills playoff game in 1996 where Boselli is credited with outperforming Smith.
“Tony was a formidable opponent during his brief career, but I find it difficult to compare the totality of his body of work with those of the NFL’s greatest left tackles,” Smith wrote in his IG post. “… Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf, and Walter Jones all protected the blindside of the quarterback for 12 seasons or more.”
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Smith also mentioned Boselli benefited from Mark Brunnell being a left-handed quarterback. That meant Jacksonville right tackle Leon Searcy protected Brunnell’s blindside.
Smith, who played 19 seasons in the NFL, highlighted notable left tackles in his era within the AFC East such as Bruce Armstrong (Patriots, 1987-2000), Richmond Webb (Dolphins, 1990-2000), and his former Bills teammate Will Wolford (1986-2000), who also played with the Colts and Steelers. Smith said perhaps they, too, should campaign for the Hall since they “all had stellar games against me.”
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Hall of Fame President Jim Porter addressed those comments made by Smith.
“The Hall of Fame supports the decisions its Selection Committee makes, and those voters have determined that Bruce and Tony are among the 362 greatest to play, coach or contribute to the game. The Hall celebrates and preserves each enshrine’s legacy,” Porter said in a statement addressed to the Jacksonville media.
Boselli, who was the first player drafted by the expansion Jaguars, was a five-time NFL Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro for three consecutive seasons. Boselli’s career was cut short at 91 games because of a shoulder injury. He has been on the ballot for 16 years, six years as a finalist. He will be the first player in Jaguar history to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Smith, though, was not the only Hall of Famer making strong comments this week.
Brian Urlacher upset Zach Thomas is not in Hall of Fame yet
On Wednesday, former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher voiced his displeasure at the absence of Thomas from the Hall. Urlacher, a member of the 2018 class, went on the Pat McAfee Show ranting about the selection committee not voting in the seven-time Pro Bowler.
“Put his stats up with mine, Ray (Lewis) and any other linebacker who’s even closer to the Hall of Fame or been in the Hall of Fame, he’s right there with us,” Urlacher said.
When asked why Thomas isn’t in the Hall of Fame, Urlacher, with uncertainty, brings up his size. Thomas was listed at 5-foot-11, 233 pounds when he entered the NFL in 1996.
Thomas, a five-time All-Pro, has been on the ballot since 2014 and a finalist for three consecutive years. He was one of the four linebackers who were finalists this year. Sam Mills was the lone linebacker to make it in this year. Thomas, Demarcus Ware and Patrick Willis did not make it in.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement is set for noon, Aug 6, at Tom Benson Stadium.
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