Buffalo, NY – Bruce Smith says he’s never had a problem with Tony Bocelli, and can’t wait for Left Intervention to join him as a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
It’s another story for some of Boselli’s supporters, allegations they made in the defense of the case for the former Jacksonville Jaguars player to gain induction in February that upset the NFL captain in sacks.
“Tony and I are great,” Smith told the Associated Press on Thursday, adding that the former players spoke by phone to clear up any confusion.
Smith added, “Tony and I don’t have beef with each other. I hope and I’d like to see Tony enjoy the process.” “But I needed to address many of his campaign supporters because it set a bad precedent.”
Smith points to the eyebrows he has raised and the “Hall of Fame feud” headlines he issued after posting a lengthy note on his Instagram account on Tuesday.
“On the one hand, I am very flattered to be considered the gold standard by which another player’s game can be measured to determine their HOF qualification,” Smith, who finished with 200 sacks over his 19-year career, wrote. Most of it was spent with buffalo bills. “But on a more serious level, I and the other HOFers think it sets an appalling precedent for negatively focusing on a permanent member of the hall play in order to validate a candidate’s nomination.”
In the feud with Smith, Boselli’s supporters focused on one specific game, Jacksonville’s 30-27 victory over Buffalo on the AFC Wild Card Tour after the 1996 season, in which comparisons were drawn between the players. It was an outing in which Boselli limited the NFL Defensive Player of the Season with three tackles and two quarterback presses.
Smith considered this argument out of bounds—or “disingenuous,” he wrote—because it pits a Hall of Fame member against a Hall of Fame member. And, he added, the player’s entire work should be under consideration, not just a single game.
“Remarks made that treat a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame in this way, insult and attack her in this way are unacceptable,” Smith said. “This needs to be nipped in the bud now before it happens again.”
He feared it was a precedent that could force the members of the Hall of Fame to respond by speaking out against candidates for induction. That’s why he waited so long after the vote was completed to express his concerns, Smith said.
“I didn’t want to put my thumb on the scale while the voting was going on,” Smith said. Publicly, we do not come out and say anything negative about any candidate.”
However, Smith also noted in his Instagram post that Boselli does not belong to the Hall of Fame because the length of Boselli’s career, which spanned from 1995 to 2001, did not fit in with some of the game’s best left tackles such as Anthony Munoz, Willie Roave and Walter Jones. Smith wrote that the fact that Boselli played with the left midfielder and didn’t have to protect the blind side is also a sign against him.
“In Jacksonville, Leon Cersei took on the daunting task of protecting Mark Brunel’s blind side, while Tony benefited from the protection of a highly talented and mobile quarterback,” Smith wrote. “During my nineteen years in the NFL, many great players, such as Bruce Armstrong, Richmond Webb and Will Wolford, have made great matches against me. Perhaps they would also be wise to build HOF campaigns that highlight this fact.”
Boselli was a HOF finalist several times before he got enough votes for the honor. He will be inducted into the Canton, Ohio, Hall of Fame on August 6 along with receiver Cliff Branch, safety Leroy Butler, head coach Art McNally, linebacker Sam Mills, linebacker Richard Seymour, coach Dick Vermeil and lineman Bryant Young.
Boselli went to five Pro Bowls, was named a first All-Pro team three times, was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and allowed 15 sacks in 91 games.
“I have a lot of respect for Bruce Smith,” Bocelli told ESPN on Tuesday. “He is one of the greatest players to have ever played the game and is one of several men I have competed with during my career. I played the matches I played, all on tape for anyone to see. My career ended early because the shoulder injury was discussed a lot. I don’t have much to add. till then “.
Smith previously paid tribute to Boselli, even presenting him at the NFL Honors in February as part of the 2022 HOF class.
As for his position, Smith said those criticized him for failing to understand the point he was making.
“I’m not going to comment on people who want to make headlines about my statement to many of his campaign supporters,” Smith said. “My message speaks for itself.” “That’s all I can say about it. Tony and I are great. I’ll be there to welcome him to the 2022 class. And that’s it.”
ESPN’s Michael DeRocco contributed to this report.