Bruce Smith claims to have “no beef” with Tony Boselli

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Bruce Smith is trying to thread the needle.

On one hand, he doesn’t like that the supporters of Tony Boselli propped up a borderline case for the Hall of Fame case by pointing to Boselli’s performance against Smith in a playoff game. On the other hand, Smith has no issue with Boselli personally.

Tony and I are cool,” Smith told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Smith said that he and Boselli have spoken by phone, in an effort to resolve any confusion that may have arisen from comments by Smith that left no confusion as to where Smith stood on Boselli’s credentials for Canton.

“Tony and I have no beef with each other,” Smith said. “And I hope and I’d like to see Tony enjoy this process. But I needed to address several of his campaign supporters because it set a bad precedent.”

Smith believes that using the performance of a potential Hall of Famer against a current Hall of Famer to make the case for enshrinement creates potential conflict between members of the Hall of Fame, if/when the player gets in. Of course, Smith’s decision to address his concerns publicly will do the same thing.

He likely thinks that, by waiting until after Boselli got in, Smith avoided the perception/reality that he was trying to keep Boselli out. Still, Boselli inevitably will be in — and he and Smith will become teammates, sort of, in an organization fueled by the performances of individuals in a distinctly team sport.

The deeper point raised by Smith, whether intended or not, is that too many people make it into the Hall of Fame. The bar should be higher. The classes should be smaller. The mere existence of a genuinely spirited debate based on accomplishments (and not a contrived debate because some voters don’t personally like the candidate) should be enough to keep someone out.

The problem is that it’s far too late to raise the bar and to allow only the know-it-when-you-see-it, no-debate-necessary candidates in. Too many already have gotten in who, frankly, shouldn’t have.

The relaxed standard, with an annual quota treated more like a minimum than a maximum, makes sense. At its core, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a business. For one weekend per year, it’s the epicenter of the NFL. And the more who get in each year, the bigger the weekend. And more people come to Canton, spending money in hotels and restaurants and paying the admission fee for the ceremony, the game, and the museum.

The lower bar also makes the process inherently political. Aggressive lobbying occurs on behalf of many candidates who have no business getting in. Sometimes, the lobbying is effective enough to do the trick. Sometimes, the ability of a player or coach whose case is lacking becomes strengthened by subsequent football-related work that technically shouldn’t be considered, but that necessarily is.

Smith’s comments speak to one of the deeper flaws in the process. Those flaws that eventually should require the Hall of Fame to create a separate room in the museum where they place the bronze busts of the no-brainer members of the club.

17 responses to “Bruce Smith claims to have “no beef” with Tony Boselli

  1. HOF is so diluted now with more good players than great getting enshrined.

  2. Smith’s timing and veiled insults at Boselli comes across as super petty and not being able to get over being dominated for one game in his great career. He’s better than that.

  3. Guess who votes for who goes into the Pro Football HoF?
    Fingers on keyboards and talking heads (aka media types)
    Will the media ever fix this? No, they will not.
    Why does Bruce Smith think that he’s the first to think that the HoF has become the ‘Hall of pretty good’?
    News for Bruce Smith, you are not the first, fans were the first to say this after the likes of Warren Moon, Thurman Thomas, and Fred Dean were elected.

  4. Guys like Boselli and Terrell Davis didn’t play long enough to be considered, IMO. 6-7 years? C’mon.

  5. Too many already have gotten in who, frankly, shouldn’t have.
    It waters down the truly great.
    That’s why it will be forever be known as the hall of good.

  6. Well said. Hall of Fame is getting watered down. So many who don’t belong and so many who do belong and are not.

  7. I don’t think there are too many HOFers. There are many, many more football players on each team than there are baseball players or basketball players, for example, and in the end that will mean more players who were among the best at their positions. That position deal is important – there are, practically speaking, 6 or so broad “positions” in baseball (catcher, corner infield, middle infield, outfield, starting pitcher, relief pitcher) that you would want to have amply represented, with only relief pitcher being a rare “specialist”. In football, you have QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs (which maybe are becoming lumped with WR, but no so much yet), OT, interior OL, Edge Rushers, interior DL, LBers, CBs, S, and special teamers. 11 full and 1 partial position that you would expect to see representation, versus 5 full and 1 partial in baseball. The key is to make sure that you don’t overly reward someone purely for solid longevity (e.g. Frank Gore) or HOF-level play over too short a career (e.g. Boselli). A baseball analogy for Boselli would be Nomar Garciaparra, who had a full 6 HOF-level seasons to his career and player a number more, but in the end he didn’t have quite enough HOF-worthy seasons and not a long enough career of other decent seasons to be worthy. But I don’t see the number of HOFers let in as a problem; if anything, there’s a bit of a clog at the moment.

  8. It’s the political crap and the guys who are on tv or were on tv, or are somehow on tv (Rodney Harrison), who get blackballed for some stupid reason.

    Ken Riley and Cliff Branch just got in and Jerome Bettis (under 4YPC, no impact and no memorable plays), Terrell Davis and Kurt Warner somehow all got in.

    It makes no sense.

    The NFL keeps moving the goal posts on the criteria, too. Some guys who win multiple rings like Lynn Swann get in, but other guys who had better careers like Cliff Branch, with less rings, don’t get in for decades.

    Or, you have guys who have ZERO rings but were top notch fixtures at their position and elite for a decade and they don’t get a sniff.

  9. We could call those all time greats “First Ballot Hall of Famers”.

  10. Smith isn’t wrong. Too many people get in. The recent takes on Matthew Stafford is a good argument. Before the Super Bowl win, Stafford wasn’t seriously considered for the HoF. He was a very good QB that will never be considered the best QB in the league during the time he played. He was put on a team loaded with stars and only really missing a good QB to lead them and they took off. I’m not calling Stafford a bad QB. His career says he’s very good. He’s just not HoF but may end up being there because he was a good QB on a SB winning team.

  11. It’s a slippery slope. For every one borderline guy that gets in, there are a dozen guys that say “well if he got in then I should get in” which is a valid argument.

    The fact that Joe Klecko, the only player in NFL history to make the pro bowl at every DL position and a member of the 20 sack club, is still waiting is a crime.

  12. Class should be smaller?!?

    There’s 32 teams with 53 players, or 1,696 a year. They inducted the same number back when there LESS teams and players.

    It’s actually HARDER to get in now than it was in the 60’s and 70’s. For example, 1971 had 7 guys get in, out of just 22 NFL/AFL teams (assuming 5 yr retirement rule).

  13. Purely sinful that LC Greenwood is not in. One of best ends ever to play in the NFL. Amazing athlete and results.

  14. It’s become like the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
    So many B-listers & average talents have made their way onto it.
    That process has also been politicized & open to anyone with enough money.

  15. The HOF is a glorified popularity contest these days but Boselli did have a great albeit short career.

  16. dryzzt23 says:
    June 17, 2022 at 8:08 am
    News for Bruce Smith, you are not the first, fans were the first to say this after the likes of Warren Moon, Thurman Thomas, and Fred Dean were elected.


    That’s 1991 NFL MVP, 5x All-Pro, 1990s All-Decade Team, 16th all time rushing yards Thurman Thomas to you, bub

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