JACKSONVILLE, Florida. The moment he saw his father’s face and heard his voice, Tony Boselli dropped his head into his hands.

- Advertisement -

“I was in no… I wasn’t ready to go there at that moment in front of everyone,” he said.

- Advertisement -

The first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars history hung his head as everyone else in the room watched the giant screen and listened to Tony Boselli Sr talk about how strong his son was as a player, how hard he worked, and how proud the man was. that he has become.

- Advertisement -

These were words that “Little Tony” often heard from “Big Tony”. However, this time Little Tony found it difficult to listen because his father had died nine months earlier. Hearing his father’s voice at this moment in a room full of family, friends and colleagues celebrating the fact that he would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was too much.

So Little Tony blocked most of that.

“It was emotional,” Boselli said. “It took me by surprise. I didn’t even know how to react… I think about my dad and not being around and you kind of reflect and it’s moments of looking back at fond memories, a little bit sad that he’s not here to experience it with me But these are good times.

“These are special moments because it means that someone important in your life, even if they are not around, is taking care of you, and you can remember the wonderful memories that you had, and how this person, in this case, my dad helped me get to where I was.”

Big Tony’s appearance ended with a 24-minute congratulatory video that was shown at the end of the Feb. 10 celebration at the University of Southern California, Boselli’s alma mater.

Little Tony hasn’t finished watching it yet.

Family is everything for Boselli.

Athletics has been a big part of the Boselli family in Boulder, Colorado. Water skiing, downhill skiing, basketball, soccer, softball, tubing… whatever. And Big Tony, despite working long hours at the fast food restaurant, has always been a part of it.

In his three children – Little Tony, Jennifer and Michael – he instilled a competitiveness that permeated everything they did. Drag a brother, sister or friend on a tubing behind a family boat? You should have seen how fast you could take them down. Two-on-two football in the backyard at halftime Denver Broncos? Fasten the (imaginary) chin strap because it will be stiff.

And the kids ate it.

“We are very competitive. Each of us,” said Jennifer. “So even if it was a basketball game in the garage, people played with all their might, because no one wanted to lose, because there was a right to show off … That’s how it was in our family, and everyone bought into it. .”

Sometimes things got — perhaps — too competitive. For example, football games on Thanksgiving Day 11 on 11 with a large family. Big Tony finished off one with a broken nose and another with a torn ACL.

“He was a really tough character. He was tough in all sports and everything he did.”

Tony Boselli Sr. on Tony Boselli Jr.

Boselli loved that his father always made time for him and his siblings, and said he would always cherish these moments, which invariably seemed to revolve around sports.

“Every day he would come home from work and we would do something in the backyard,” Boselli said. “And most of all I liked either football or basketball. We played one on one. [basketball] until I went to high school and we went to the backyard and played ball. There has never been a situation where I have worked on drills in the offensive line. I didn’t want to be an offensive lineman at that age. I wanted to be a quarterback or linebacker.”

However, before that could happen, Boselli had to start playing organized football. The minimum age to play Pop Warner football in Boulder was 10, but 9-year-old Little Tony wanted to play so badly that Big Tony lied for good.

“I wanted to wear pads. So my dad, we went to the place, the recreation center, and we signed up and [the person registering players] goes: “How old is your son?” Boselli remembered.[Big Tony] goes: “He’s 10.” Made up my date of birth and all that so I could play football.”

“I would like to share with him how proud I am of what he has accomplished over the years of football… [and] to be a man.”

Big Tony on Little Tony

For Big Tony, family was everything. If Little Tony went somewhere, he took his younger brothers and sisters with him. It was important to spend time together and create traditions that continue to this day.

“When we go to our beach house in California, which we did all the time on vacation, he always made sure that every morning we all woke up as a family, went downstairs and bought donuts from the same donut shop. , Michael said. “And then in the evening after dinner, we always walk along the boardwalk and all eat ice cream together. Until now, when we go there with the whole family, it doesn’t matter if we are all as a group or individual families, we all do it still as a family.”

Even as the kids grew up, married, and moved—Little Tony to USC and then to Jacksonville when the Jaguars selected him second overall in 1995—family vacations continued.

Until Big Tony was too sick with cancer to go.

Making a Big Tony Congratulatory Video

Anji Boselli’s heart broke.

Not because her husband told her in early 2021 that he was not inducted into the Hall of Fame after being a finalist for the fifth time, but because his father was ill and unlikely to be around if Boselli ends up being will do.

“Oh, I was devastated,” Angi said. “I know I teared up. And, like I said, it was a moment, “Oh, yes, he will.” “

It was then that Angie decided that she needed to film her father-in-law for her husband. She hired family friends Eric and Kay Murphy to help arrange the video shoot. There was only one small problem: convincing Big Tony to do it.

“He did a lot more than just play football to get this position. He is truly a great man.”

Big Tony on Little Tony

“The hardest part was convincing his father that we were doing this for everyone,” Angi said. “We were filming a video and he wouldn’t agree to it if he knew we were trying to get his last thoughts or that we thought he might not make it. His father was a fighter. He truly believed that all of his cancer treatments were going to work.

“When he made the video, it was done under the pretext that we were inviting a coach. [Tom] Coughlin, a bunch of former players, a bunch of friends. In fact, we did just that, but [Big] Tony’s video was the first shot. And everything else came by itself.”

The video was filmed at Big Tony’s apartment in Jacksonville Beach. Eric Murphy gave the interview and members of the Jaguars video and production team filmed it. They filmed it at the end of April 2021.

On May 31, the cancer that had torn apart Big Tony’s body for years dealt the final blow.

Angie, you need to turn it off. It’s so awkward.

It was a bittersweet moment for Little Tony when Anthony Munoz, a Hall of Famer, knocked on the door of Murphy’s house to let him know he would be inducted.

Angie and several high-ranking Jaguars officials knew Boselli was inducted into the Hall of Fame and helped organize a party at USC following the February 10 announcement. About 100 people were present. There was an hour of cocktails and dinner, and when the dessert hit the table, a congratulatory video played on the huge screen.

Boselli had problems with it almost as soon as it started. He disliked all the accolades from former coaches, teammates, members of the Jaguars organization, family and friends.

And then rolled for 10 minutes. Then 15.

“He came up to me and said, ‘Angie, you need to turn this off. It’s so embarrassing,” Angie said. “And I said, ‘Honey, the Jaguars have done this for you and they’re all watching. Come and watch the video.” I had to get to him.”

Her husband displeasedly sat back at the table, which included former Jaguar quarterback Mark Brunell and his wife Stacey, former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and his wife Michaela, former Jaguars offensive lineman Jeff Novak and his wife Kim, and Jaguars owner Shad Khan. .

Then it happened.

Even six months later, Angi felt emotional when she described the moment when her father-in-law appeared on the screen.

“Perhaps that was the most enjoyable part,” she said. “Tony is very resilient. Very resistant. He doesn’t cry. He delivered a eulogy to his father and gasped for a bit, but to be honest, he got over that eulogy very nicely.

“He’s just a very strong person, so watching him crumble when he sees this…uhhh.”

Her husband was not the only one. Jennifer and Michael also felt a kick in the stomach when they saw their father.

“Hearing it again and seeing it was hard, but it was amazing,” Michael said. “I sat and watched and just cried and had a big smile on my face. I took this opportunity to see him again.”

This is something Little Tony hasn’t done yet.

But he will be soon. He said he would sit down and watch his father’s role in a video right before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

“Perhaps I am not the best at dealing with such emotions,” Boselli said. “I always joked that I must have some kind of secret room locked in my brain, where I just put all these unpleasant emotions. But I’m going to do it, there’s no doubt about it.

“At the moment, I kind of want to make it what I’m looking at before I [am inducted into the Hall of Fame]. Because I want this memory, the photo of my father and his words, to be kind of rooted in my memory when I go to Canton, because he will be there only in spirit.