At the peak of his abilities, Tony Boselli was a massive, immensely powerful, smart, and remarkably agile offensive tackle. His 6’7”, 320-plus pound size earned him awards and accolades at every level he competed at, including earning All Pac-10 and All-American honors as a USC Trojan.
At the professional level, he was a first round draft pick for the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars and became a five-time Pro Bowler, a member of the team’s Ring of Honor and named to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1990s. His journey includes being enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
Despite his natural gifts, his pedigree, and the lessons he picked along the way from a litany of stellar coaches, one thing above all else helped him succeed in the sport of football: good, old fashioned hard work.
“I started playing football pretty much as soon as I could. I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with the sport, but it was early on,” he said. “I played every position growing up. Going into my freshman year in high school [at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo.], I was the quarterback. My coach asked me to move to tight end as a sophomore and then to tackle my junior year. I just wanted to play and be part of the team.”
Football is the most unique of all team sports in that it truly takes the collective to be successful; the position of offensive lineman is an even more unique subset within football. The success of one player is dependent upon the group being one cohesive unit. Early on Boselli realized this: No matter how “good” he was at his job, he would be judged as part of the offensive line unit. It was a circumstance he not only adjusted to, but relished.
“I really enjoyed being an offensive lineman,” he said. “I loved playing football to begin with, but being on the offensive line was something even more special to me. I figured out that no matter how good your skill position guys were, no matter if you had the best quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, it didn’t matter unless the guys up front did their job. Great teams have great offensive lines and that was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Boselli decided to attend USC after visiting the campus. He was drawn to the school’s history and tradition, both on and off the football field. Coming from a run-based offense, he soon got a crash course in the type of pass blocking skills he would need to fit into the Trojans pro-style offense.
“I really had no idea how to pass block until I got to USC,” Boselli said. “The most important thing I learned, though, was something that stuck with me the rest of my career: Finish your block. That means your guy doesn’t get near the quarterback and your guy doesn’t make the play. That was something I always tried to do. I know I wasn’t always successful, but I think having that mindset really helped me get far in my career.”
Under Hall of Fame Head Coach John Robinson, Boselli and the Trojans competed yearly for Pac-10 titles. In this arena of constant competition and chasing championships, Boselli thrived. For him, this time period remains one of his favorite in his long career in football.
“It would be hard for me to pin down one favorite memory from my time playing at USC,” he explained. “I loved all of it. The history of the Trojans program, playing at the Coliseum, being a part of something more than myself, these are all things I really loved about my time in college. It was great to know that I was even a small part of something much bigger than me. The legacy of the USC program is truly special and I loved being a part of it.”
From his time playing football in the backyard with his friends through high school, college, and the pros, Boselli developed a passion and a real need to excel through hard work. This drive carried him through eight years of professional football as well as helped him guide his charity, the Boselli Foundation, and now in his current role as a broadcaster. It is this drive that he learned and cultivated in the game of football that he utilizes every single day.
“I had to quit football basically because my body gave out on me, not because I wanted to,” he explained. “It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Now that I am back in Jacksonville, I do work in the community with the Jaguars and for my Foundation. I also have a great family and broadcasting scratches my football itch. No matter what though, I know that hard work is going to be a part of what I do every day. It’s how I achieved the level of success that I have in life and I know it is what will keep me going on to whatever the next challenge life hands me.”