'He is truly a great man'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The minute he saw his dad’s face and heard his voice, Tony Boselli dropped his head into his hands.

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

The initial draft choice in Jacksonville Jaguars history kept his head down as everybody else in the space viewed the huge screen and listened as Tony Boselli Sr. discussed how hard his boy was as a gamer, how hard he worked and how happy he was of the male he had actually ended up being.

Those were words that “Little Tony” had actually heard frequently from “Big Tony.” This time, nevertheless, it was difficult for Little Tony to listen, since his dad had actually passed away 9 months previously. Hearing his father’s voice at this minute, in a space loaded with household, buddies and coworkers, while commemorating the truth he would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was simply excessive.

So Little Tony obstructed the majority 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.

“Those are unique minutes since it suggests somebody crucial in your life, even if they’re not there, appreciates you, and you can reflect on the excellent memories that you had and how that person, in this case my father, assisted me get to where I was.”

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 incredibly competitive. Every single among us,” Jennifer said. “So even if it was a pickup video game of basketball on the garage, individuals were playing hard since nobody wished to lose ever since there was boasting rights. … That’s simply the method it remained 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 truly hard character. He was difficult in all sports and whatever that he did.”

Tony Boselli Sr. on Tony Boselli Jr.

Boselli enjoyed that his dad constantly made time for him and his brother or sisters and stated he’ll constantly treasure those minutes, which usually appeared to focus on sports.

“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.”

Before that might occur, nevertheless, Boselli needed to begin playing arranged football. The minimum age to play Pop Warner football in Boulder was 10, however 9-year-old Little Tony wished to play so severely that Big Tony informed a little 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 kept in mind. “[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.”

Big Tony on Little Tony

For Big Tony, household was whatever. If Little Tony went someplace, he took his more youthful brother or sisters. Spending time together and developing customs that continue to this day was very important.

“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 kids grew and wed and moved — Little Tony to USC and after that Jacksonville when the Jaguars chose him 2nd general in 1995 — the household getaways continued.

Until Big Tony was too ill with cancer to go.

Making Big Tony’s congratulatory video

Angi Boselli’s heart broke.

Not since her partner informed her in early 2021 that he had not made the Hall of Fame after his 5th time as a finalist, however since his dad was ill and not likely to be around 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’s when Angi chose she needed to get her father-in-law on video for her partner. She employed household buddies Eric and Kay Murphy to assist with the logistics of establishing the video shoot. There was simply one small issue: convincing Big 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.”

Big 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 under the pretense we were getting coach [Tom] Coughlin, a lot of ex-players, a lot of buddies. In truth, we did do that, however [Big] Tony’s video was the very first one shot. And the rest all came naturally.”

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 minute for Little Tony when Hall of Fame offending take on Anthony Munoz knocked on the door to the Murphy’s house to inform him he would be inducted.

Angi and a number of high-ranking Jaguars authorities understood Boselli had actually entered the Hall of Fame, and they assisted arrange a celebration at USC after the Feb. 10 statement. Nearly 100 individuals went to. There was a mixed drink hour and a supper, and when dessert struck the table, the congratulatory video began to use a huge screen.

Boselli had difficulty with it basically as quickly as it began. He was unpleasant with all the appreciation from previous coaches, colleagues, members of the Jaguars company, friends and family.

And then 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 partner grumpily kicked back down at a table that consisted of previous Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell and his better half, Stacy, previous Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and his better half, Michaela, previous Jaguars offending lineman Jeff Novak and his better half, Kim, and Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

Then it took place.

Even 6 months later on, Angi got psychological when she explained the minute her father-in-law showed up on the screen.

“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 simply an extremely strong human, so to view him sort of collapse when he saw it … uhhh.”

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

“To hear him once again and to see that, it was hard, however it was amazing,” Michael said. “I sat there and gazed and simply sobbed and had a huge ol’ smile on my face. I took that chance to take pleasure in seeing him one more 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’m most likely not the very best at managing those kind of feelings,” Boselli said. “I’ve constantly joked that I’ve most likely got some surprise space locked away in my brain that I simply put all those unpleasant feelings into. But I’m going to do it, there’s no 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.”

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