Swann Finally Got His Recognition

Lynn Swann knocked on the door of the Pro Football Hall of Fame for 14 years before the voters took notice and the former Pittsburgh Steelers star was voted into the Hall of Fame.<br><br>On Saturday, Aug. 4, 2001 his former running mate, John Stallworth, presented Swann as the 18th enshrined member of the Steelers family.

"I always hoped it would come," Swann said of his induction. "Certainly after five or six years...seven or eight years...nine or ten years - you start to have some doubts. To the credit of the people of Pittsburgh and friends who kept telling me, "it's ok, you'll get there," they were very supportive. I had to figure that if I don't get there then what does that mean? Well it means that I'm not in the Hall of Fame. Not being in the Hall of Fame does not mean that you're not a talented player and you didn't have a good career. It means there's just something that you just didn't get along the way. I had to be comfortable and satisfied with what I achieved. I did reach that point so going in makes it all the better."

Swann finally had his moment in the sun at Canton. Standing on the front steps of the Hall of Fame, adorned in the traditional gold jacket, he took his place in the shrine with seven teammates and a head coach from the Super Bowl days of the 1970s.

"Someone asked me, 'Are you savoring the moment?' " Swann said. "I said, No, I'm not savoring the moment. I'm sucking it dry. I'm not here to taste every little bit. I'm inhaling it as fast as I can."

Hurting Swann's chances for the Hall of Fame was a feeling that the Hall already had too many of the "Super Steelers of the ‘70's" in it.

Swann's regular season numbers were scrutinized. He caught 336 passes for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns. Those aren't flashy numbers.

"That's really a bunch of garbage," His coach Chuck Noll stated. "What (the voters) are doing is comparing him to people in the Run-and-Shoot who build up all those numbers, but never won anything. You can look at it that way or you can look at the way Lynn rose to the occasion in every big game, whenever the challenge was there."

Certainly the biggest game of them all - The Super Bowl became Swann's stage.

On Jan. 18, 1976, he had, arguably, the greatest game by a wide receiver in Super Bowl history. And he was named most valuable player in the Steelers' 21-17 victory against the Dallas Cowboys.

Remember Swann's leaping catch at midfield of a Terry Bradshaw aerial, with Dallas cornerback Mark Washington draped all over him?

Remember his 64-yard, over the shoulder, game winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter?

His numbers for the day - four receptions for a then Super Bowl record 161 yards.

Swann rose to the occasion again in Super Bowl XIII. He caught seven passes for 124 yards including a leaping grab of an 18-yard TD pass that sealed the Steelers' 35-31 victory.

Replays of Swann's Super Bowl catches are a staple on ESPN Classic Sports.

"I look at the moment, about what was occurring at the time regarding that singular catch," Swann recalled. "I remember the significance of each catch."

Swann was an acrobat, an artistic receiver.

"I take some pride in the fact that players like Cris Carter, Cris Collinsworth and Jerry Rice have said they watched me when they were coming up and that they wanted to play the game the way I played the game," Swann said. "That gives me a great deal of satisfaction in terms of how I played the game. It's nice to have your own individual style, or what people perceive to be your own individual style. That was not what I was looking to do, it was just something that occurred."

Swann looks back on his career with the Steelers with pride.

"I would not trade a single Super Bowl ring and the time in Pittsburgh for anything in the world. Well... maybe a ten million-dollar bonus. Franco Harris is the godfather of my second son, Braxton. You don't develop those kinds of relationships easily. Would I give up that? No, I would not give that up."

Swann said all the right things at his induction ceremony, but he did make some comments in a newspaper article about former Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw that caused a flap in the "Steel City".

The article was critical of Bradshaw and caught him off guard.

Swann, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, "Bradshaw did not seem like he wanted to throw the ball in my direction," and, in specific cases, deliberately ignored him.

"But could Bradshaw read secondaries? I doubt it. Pick a guy, throw him the football. What made Bradshaw decide not to throw me more passes at the end of my career, I have no idea, no idea. I mean, socially, we didn't see each other or hang out. Maybe he and John [Stallworth] did more, I don't know."

Bradshaw was puzzled by the remarks and responded in the Post-Gazette.

"I've always supported Lynn and said he deserves to be in there," he said. "I love him. I think it's unfortunate he feels like that."

"[But] you're not going to like everyone you play with. I bet if everybody on that team was brutally honest, we'd all have some hurt feelings."

Swann finally went into the Hall of Fame, but he still had unfinished business with the Hall of Fame voters and that was John Stallworth.

"John is deserving and should be sitting next to us right at this moment," Swann said. "I hope that next year, John is in Canton for himself. "

"Certainly, I'm going to thank John for being there for me in a number of ways." Swann got his wish when Stallworth was inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 4, 2002.

Once Swann made it, Stallworth's chances increased significantly. Swann helped out by asking Stallworth to be his Hall of Fame presenter, thus giving Stallworth a share of the stage that Swann thought his former teammate deserved for himself.

20 years after going their separate ways -- Swann to become a TV announcer, Stallworth to finish off a career that lasted until 1987, then to launch a successful aerospace company that now employs 650 -- they are teammates again.

"They should have been in there a long time ago," said Chuck Noll, their former Steelers coach.

Swann remains a fixture on television - he was on the sidelines reporting at the Sugar Bowl matchup for college football's national championship when LSU defeated Oklahoma. He has been with ABC Sports since 1976.

One of the top sideline reporters in the business, Swann currently works with Brad Nessler and Bob Griese.

Lynn was recently named to head President Bush's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He is on the national Board of Directors and is spokesman for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America (since 1980).


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