Pro Football Hall of Fame players call out Class of 2022 voting

Buffalo Bills DE Bruce Smith and Jacksonville Jaguars OT Tony Boselli (71) shove each other after a play during a 1997 game.

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.

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli (71) blocks Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith (78) during the second quarter of an NFL football game on October 18, 1998. [Rick Wilson/Florida Times-Union]

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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Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli (71) pushes Buffalo's All-Pro defensive end Bruce Smith (78) to the ground in the third quarter in an NFL game on December 14, 1997. [Rick Wilson/Florida Times-Union/File]

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 enshrinee’s legacy,” Porter said in a statement addressed to the Jacksonville media. 

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