Spring 2021 Magazine

Former Pro Bowl LT Tony Boselli clings to faith during coronavirus scare

For eight seasons from 1995-2002, Tony Boselli towered over opposing defensive lines as a 6-foot-7, 324-pound offensive tackle. But even he felt helpless at times in his battle with the virus that has brought much of the country to a standstill.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

Thankfully, the 47-year-old Jacksonville Jaguar great seems to be on the mend. He was discharged from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville on Tuesday, where he had spent the past five days. Half of that time was in the intensive care unit.

Boselli first started feeling ill on March 16, but checked himself into the hospital when his coronavirus symptoms worsened and he started struggling to breath.

“It was kind of fuzzy, but I remember [the pulmonologist] saying, ‘If we don’t get your oxygen stabilized, we’re going to have to go to the next level,'” Boselli told ESPN. “I remember laying there thinking, ‘What do you mean, if this doesn’t work?’ He says, ‘We don’t know what direction this is going to go.’

“I don’t know if I ever was like I thought I was going to die, but I remember having the conversation with myself: I don’t want to die here.”

He is still weak and fighting fatigue and a lingering cough, but he tested negative for the virus on Wednesday. He told ESPN he lost 20 pounds during the ordeal.

When he is healthy, Boselli spends his days as part of the Jaguars’ radio play-by-play team and helping to operate the Boselli Foundation. He and his wife founded the Boselli Foundation in Jacksonville in 1995 to work with at-risk youth and help them cultivate Biblical principles like humility in their lives.

“Services incorporate faith-based character building and intensive academics, greatly impacting the lives of many of Jacksonville’s youth,” the foundation’s website says.

End of the Year Celebration

Our End of the Year Celebration video

Posted by The Boselli Foundation on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

Boselli graced the cover of the Sports Spectrum Magazine in December 1999 as he discussed his football career and his faith.

“I’ve seen so many kids miss the truth, and I missed it for so long. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m here and that I know Him,” he said. “I look back and there’s a lot of times I could have ended up dead, in jail, or in [some other kind of] trouble. I thank God that He’s given me the opportunity to touch other kids through Him and be able to speak that message [of hope] to the kids of the high school generation.”

Later, Boselli added, “It’s an encouragement to me to know that God is in control and that He has my best interests in mind. If I obey Him and follow what His Word says, then my life will ultimately be fulfilled.”

Along with his former quarterback, Mark Brunell, and others, Boselli also helped found Southpoint Community Church in Jacksonville and helps minister to college athletes in the area.

Boselli was drafted by Jacksonville out of USC with the second overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, the first pick in the expansion team’s history. He played seven seasons for the Jaguars before the Houston Texans selected him in 2002 as part of their expansion draft class. Injuries prevented him from ever suiting up for the Texans, and he officially retired a couple of years later. He has been a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the past four years.

RELATED STORIES:
FLASHBACK: Tony Boselli – To Protect and Serve
Myron Rolle, former NFL safety, battling coronavirus as neurosurgery resident
NEW PODCAST: Dave Pasch – ESPN Broadcaster
Mother of T-Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns in medically-induced coma with coronavirus
Russell Wilson, Tauren Wells, Stephen Curry discuss faith amid pandemic