Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann makes a good point about the Hall of Fame credentials of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron simply may not have done enough in nine NFL seasons to earn a spot in Canton. By making the case against Johnson, however, Swann opens himself up for questions about his own spot in the Hall of Fame.
There’s no way the bronze bust will disintegrate, but that doesn’t mean folks can’t ask how Swann made it and argue that he shouldn’t have. Ultimately, he made it for two reasons: team accomplishments and his performance in Super Bowl X. So when Swann says Johnson doesn’t have the team accomplishments to get in, Swann is boosting his own presence by pointing out that it’s more about team achievements than individuals ones.
Indeed, if it’s about individual achievements, Swann has no business being there. He’s 222nd on the all-time receiving yardage list, via Pro Football Reference.
Not 22nd. Two hundred and 22nd.
The knee-jerk response will be this: The game has changed dramatically since then, allowing plenty of more modern players to pass him by. It’s a fair point, until considering the list.
The guy at 221, Jerry Smith with 5,496 yards, played from 1965-77. Chris Burford at 219 played from 1960-67. Ray Renfro at 218 played from 1952-63.
How about Max Speedie at 209? He generated 5,602 yards from 1946-52. Danny Abramowicz at 201 played from 1967-74. Gail Cogdill at 198 played from 1960-70.
Calvin Johnson is at 27, with 11,619 yards. That’s well over twice the amount that Swann generated for his career. And if Calvin Johnson had played for the Steelers of the ’70s, he’d easily be in the Hall of Fame.
Johnson may not make it as a Lion. But Swann probably shouldn’t have made it as a Steeler.