‘He is really an important man’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The second he noticed his father’s face and heard his voice, Tony Boselli dropped his head into his palms.

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

The primary draft decide in Jacksonville Jaguars historical past saved his head down as everybody else within the room watched the enormous display and listened as Tony Boselli Sr. talked about how powerful his son was as a participant, how exhausting he labored and the way proud he was of the person he had develop into.

These had been phrases that “Little Tony” had heard typically from “Big Tony.” This time, nevertheless, it was exhausting for Little Tony to pay attention, as a result of his father had died 9 months earlier. Hearing his dad’s voice at this second, in a room filled with household, pals and colleagues, whereas celebrating the very fact he could be inducted into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame, was simply an excessive amount of.

So Little Tony blocked most of it out.

“It was emotional,” Boselli stated. “It caught me by surprise. I didn’t even know how to react. … I think about my dad and not being there, and you kind of reflect, and those are moments of looking back on the fond memories, a little bit of sadness that he’s not here to experience it with me. But those are good moments.

“These are particular moments as a result of it means somebody essential in your life, even when they are not there, cares about you, and you may suppose again on the nice reminiscences that you just had and the way that particular person, on this case my dad, helped me get to the place I used to be.”

Big Tony’s appearance capped a 24-minute congratulatory video that played at the end of a Feb. 10 celebration at USC, Boselli’s alma mater.

Little Tony still hasn’t finished watching it.

Family is everything for the Bosellis

Athletics were a big part of the Boselli household in Boulder, Colorado. Water skiing, snow skiing, basketball, football, softball, tubing … whatever. And Big Tony, despite working long hours managing a fast-food restaurant, was always part of it.

What he instilled in his three children — Little Tony, Jennifer and Michael — was a competitiveness that infiltrated everything they did. Hauling a sibling or a friend on a tube behind the family’s boat? You had to see how fast you could knock them off. Two-on-two football in the backyard at halftime of Denver Broncos games? Buckle your (imaginary) chin strap, because it’s going to get rough.

And the kids ate it up.

“We’re tremendous aggressive. Each single considered one of us,” Jennifer said. “So even when it was a pickup sport of basketball on the storage, individuals had been enjoying exhausting as a result of nobody wished to lose ever as a result of there was bragging rights. … That is simply the way in which it was in our household, and everybody purchased into that.”

Sometimes things got — arguably — too competitive. Like the 11-on-11 Thanksgiving Day tackle football games with the extended family. Big Tony finished one with a broken nose and another with a torn ACL.

“He was one actually powerful character. He was powerful in all sports activities and the whole lot that he did.”

Tony Boselli Sr. on Tony Boselli Jr.

Boselli cherished that his father at all times made time for him and his siblings and stated he’ll at all times cherish these moments, which invariably appeared to revolve round sports activities.

“He’d come home from work every day and we’d do something in the backyard,” Boselli stated. “And my favorite was either football or basketball. We played one-on-one [basketball] until I was in high school, and we would go in the backyard and play catch. It was never a situation where I would work on offensive line drills. I didn’t want to be an offensive lineman at that age. I wanted to be a quarterback or a linebacker.”

Earlier than that might occur, nevertheless, Boselli needed to begin enjoying organized soccer. The minimal age to play Pop Warner soccer in Boulder was 10, however 9-year-old Little Tony wished to play so badly that Large Tony informed a bit of white lie.

“I wanted to put the pads on. And so my dad, we went to the place, the rec center, and we signed up and [the person registering players] goes, ‘How old’s your son?’ ” Boselli remembered. “[Big Tony] goes, ‘He’s 10.’ Made up a birthdate and everything so that I could play football.”

“I would like to share with him how proud I am of what he’s accomplished throughout his years of football … [and] being a man.”

Large Tony on Little Tony

For Large Tony, household was the whole lot. If Little Tony went someplace, he took his youthful siblings. Spending time collectively and creating traditions that proceed to today was essential.

“When we go out to our beach house in California, and we used to do that as a vacation all the time, he always made sure every morning we all woke up together as a family and walked down and got doughnuts from the same doughnut shop,” Michael stated. “And then at nighttime after dinner we always walk down the boardwalk and all have ice cream together. Still to this day when we all go out there as a family, no matter if it’s all of us as a group or just individual families, we all do that still as a family.”

Even when the children grew and married and moved — Little Tony to USC after which Jacksonville when the Jaguars chosen him second total in 1995 — the household holidays continued.

Till Large Tony was too sick with most cancers to go.

Making Large Tony’s congratulatory video

Angi Boselli’s coronary heart broke.

Not as a result of her husband informed her in early 2021 that he hadn’t made the Corridor of Fame after his fifth time as a finalist, however as a result of his father was sick and unlikely to be round if Boselli ultimately did make it.

“Oh, I was devastated,” Angi stated. “I know I teared up. And like I said, it was an instant, ‘Oh yes he will.’ “

That is when Angi determined she needed to get her father-in-law on video for her husband. She enlisted household pals Eric and Kay Murphy to assist with the logistics of organising the video shoot. There was only one minor drawback: convincing Large Tony to do it.

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

Large Tony on Little Tony

“The tricky part was convincing his dad we were doing this for everybody,” Angi stated. “We were making a video, and he would not have agreed to it had he known that we were trying to get his final thoughts or that we thought that he may not make it. His dad was a fighter. He was really believing that all of his cancer treatments were going to work.

“When he did the video, it was underneath the pretense we had been getting coach [Tom] Coughlin, a bunch of ex-players, a bunch of pals. The truth is, we did do this, however [Big] Tony’s video was the primary one shot. And the remainder all got here organically.”

The video was shot at Big Tony’s Jacksonville Beach condo. Eric Murphy did the interview, and members of the Jaguars video/production team filmed it. They shot it in late April 2021.

On May 31, the cancer that had been ravaging Big Tony’s body for years took its final toll.

‘Angi, you need to turn this off. It’s so embarrassing.’

It was a bittersweet second for Little Tony when Corridor of Fame offensive deal with Anthony Munoz knocked on the door to the Murphy’s house to inform him he could be inducted.

Angi and a number of other high-ranking Jaguars officers knew Boselli had gotten into the Corridor of Fame, they usually helped manage a celebration at USC after the Feb. 10 announcement. Practically 100 individuals attended. There was a cocktail hour and a dinner, and when dessert hit the desk, the congratulatory video began to play on an enormous display.

Boselli had bother with it just about as quickly because it began. He was uncomfortable with all of the reward from former coaches, teammates, members of the Jaguars group, household and pals.

After which it rolled previous 10 minutes. Then 15.

“He went over to me, and he was like, ‘Angi, you need to turn this off. It’s so embarrassing,'” Angi stated. “And I said, ‘Honey, the Jaguars put this together for you, and they’re all watching. Shape up and watch the video.’ I had to get on him.”

Her husband grumpily sat again down at a desk that included former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell and his spouse, Stacy, former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and his spouse, Michaela, former Jaguars offensive lineman Jeff Novak and his spouse, Kim, and Jaguars proprietor Shad Khan.

Then it occurred.

Even six months later, Angi acquired emotional when she described the second her father-in-law got here up on the display.

“That was probably the sweetest part,” she stated. “Tony is very stoic. Very stoic. He doesn’t cry. He did his dad’s eulogy, and he did get choked up slightly, but honestly he made it through the eulogy very beautifully.

“He is only a very sturdy human being, so to observe him kind of crumble when he noticed it … uhhh.”

Her husband wasn’t the only one. Jennifer and Michael also felt the gut punch of seeing their father.

“To listen to him once more and to see that, it was exhausting, nevertheless it was superior,” Michael said. “I sat there and stared and simply cried and had a giant ol’ smile on my face. I took that chance to get pleasure from seeing him yet another time.”

That’s something Little Tony hasn’t yet done.

But he will soon. He said he will sit down and watch his dad’s part in the video just before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

“I am in all probability not the perfect at dealing with these sort of feelings,” Boselli said. “I’ve at all times joked that I’ve in all probability acquired some hidden room locked away in my mind that I simply put all these uncomfortable feelings into. However I will do it, there is not any doubt about that.

“At this point, I kind of want to make that the thing I watch before I [am inducted into the Hall of Fame]. Because I want that memory, the picture of my dad, and his words kind of ingrained in my mind as I go to Canton, because he’s only going to be there in spirit.”