Mike Bianchi: Jaguars need to hire legendary Tony Boselli as new GM

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On August 19, 2011, former Jacksonville Jaguars lineman Tony Boselli, left, talks with Jaguars general manager Gene Smith at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. - Daniel Goncalves/CSM/Zuma Press/TNS

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars finally did the right thing and fired longtime general manager Dave Caldwell earlier this week — albeit about two years too late — but now it’s imperative for the bedraggled Jags to hire somebody who can pave the way to a better future.

I’m talking about a man who’s literally been paving the way for the Jaguars ever since he became their very first draft choice, their greatest player and a should-be Hall of Famer.

I’m talking about the great Tony Boselli.

In my mind, Boselli checks all the boxes as the next GM of the Jags. He knows the organization like nobody else; he loves the organization like nobody else; he’s a great communicator; he’s beloved by the fans; he’s charismatic; he knows the game; and, mainly, he knows how to be a leader.

And spare me the ridiculous rhetoric about how Boselli doesn’t have any experience in the front office. Puh-leeze! Former player John Lynch didn’t have any front office experience when he went straight from the TV booth to GM of the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 — and two years later he was NFL’s Executive of the Year.

John Elway didn’t have any experience when he was hired as GM of the Denver Broncos in 2011. In the next five seasons, the Broncos went to the playoffs five times, won four division titles, two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl trophy.

Do you know how two iconic Super Bowl-winning GMs — Tex Schramm of the old Dallas Cowboys and Ernie Accorsi of the Eli Manning-quarterbacked New York Giants — got their start? They were freaking sportswriters. And just because they were former sportswriters didn’t mean their teams filled up on hotdogs at halftime and played with mustard stains on their jerseys. Not even close. The reason they were great GMs is because they knew the game and they were great decision-makers and leaders.

I believe Boselli has those qualities. He knows the players and coaches across the league from his job as the lead color analyst for the NFL’s Thursday night game on Westwood One radio. And he knows the Jaguars’ problems, pitfalls and personnel as well as anyone. He’s been a member of the team’s radio broadcasting crew for the last seven seasons, which means he’s seen the organization mismanage draft picks, botch coaching hires and alienate players by breaking NFLPA rules under former team vice president/dictator Tom Coughlin.

I called up Boselli after Coughlin was fired last season for his brazen disregard of NFLPA by-laws. I was actually expecting Boselli to defend Coughlin, his former coach with the Jaguars, but Boselli was having none of that. He pulled no punches and said Coughlin deserved to be fired.

“The Tom Coughlin I played for, it was about discipline and following the rules,” Boselli told me then. “He wanted his players to do A, B and C — and those were the rules and that’s how the team operated. As a player, I didn’t agree with or like all the rules, but those were the rules and I followed them. It’s ironic to me that if it’s good for the players, it has to be good for the coaches and front office as well. If the rules are laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, then you have to follow those rules.”

That’s when I knew Boselli would be great at running an NFL franchise: Because he would be willing to separate loyalties and friendships and do what’s right and what’s best for the organization.

It’s time for Jaguars owner Shad Khan to hire Boselli to lead this beleaguered franchise out of the abyss.

Tony Boselli has been the clearing a path for Jacksonville ever since he was the most dominant offensive lineman in the game during the team’s heyday back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Now, more than ever, the Jaguars need Big Tony to pave the way once again.

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