Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974-82
Swann stands out as the most questionable NFL Hall of Fame selection. The fact that it took him 14 years as a finalist before he was finally elected in 2003 raises some red flags. Moreover, Swann doesn’t have the career numbers or longevity typically associated with the NFL’s highest honor.
To Swann’s credit, he played the game with plenty of flair and made some of the most incredible catches anybody will ever see. Adding to his case was his tendency to play his best in the biggest games, including a four-catch, 161 yard, one-touchdown performance in Super Bowl X.
But if the Hall of Fame is about career accomplishments rather than a few spectacular games, Swann comes up a bit short in other categories. He caught 336 passes for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns, totaling over 800 yards in only two seasons.
Only once did Swann lead the NFL in any major category – 11 touchdowns in 1975. His three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection rank well behind other Hall of Famers, as well as many receivers who aren’t in Canton.
That lone All-Pro selection came in 1978 when Swann caught 61 passes for 880 yards and 11 touchdown. Those numbers can’t be compared to today’s NFL, but Swann only ranked seventh in the NFL in receptions and yards that season.
Swann was a great receiver who will always be on highlight reels. And he most certainly deserves plenty of credit for helping the Steelers win four Super Bowls in six years. However, his overall numbers just don’t stack up when compared to his peers in the Hall of Fame.
Next: Paul Hornung