Former Steelers receiver Lynn Swann retired at age 30 with 336 catches for 5,462 yads and 51 touchdowns. But Swann says that Calvin Johnson, who’s expected to retire at the age of 30 with 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns, shouldn’t join him in the Hall of Fame.
“I would think that it would be difficult for Calvin Johnson at this point to be considered a Hall of Famer,” Swann told the Detroit News. “Calvin Johnson has an extreme amount of talent and ability, but when you start to look at his team, the success of his team and did he lift that team; he made them a little bit better, but at the end of the day, I’m not quite sure.”
That argument is, frankly, ridiculous. Swann is essentially saying that because he won four Super Bowl rings on a 1970s Steelers team that was among the most talented ever, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. But because Johnson suffered the fate of being drafted onto a team built by Matt Millen, he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
Super Bowl rings are a team accomplishment, and no one would dispute that Swann was on much, much better teams than Johnson. But the Hall of Fame is about individual accomplishment, and on that score Megatron easily beats Swann. Megatron owns the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season, led the league in receiving yards twice and led the league in catches and touchdowns once each. Swann never led the league in catches or yards and was only in the Top 5 in either category once, in 1977, when he was fourth in the league in receiving yards. Johnson was a first-team All-Pro three times; Swann was a first-team All-Pro once. Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowler; Swann was a three-time Pro Bowler.
But Swann harps on team accomplishments.
“Hard to say he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame when his team hasn’t gotten to a Super Bowl, and they don’t get a chance to get into the playoffs,” Swann said. “And that’s for a lot of guys across the board. If he had broken every passing record, like Danny Fouts, who didn’t win the Super Bowl, then yeah, I think there’s going to be consideration.”
Fouts didn’t actually break every passing record, but he and Swann are friends and former broadcasting colleagues, so apparently Swann is willing to bend the facts for a buddy. For Megatron, Swann would prefer to keep the Hall of Fame doors shut.