Lynn Swann

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Lynn Swann
Swann with the Steelers' Terrible Towel
No. 88
Position: Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1952-03-07) March 7, 1952 (age 63)
Place of birth: Alcoa, Tennessee
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school: San Mateo (CA) Junípero Serra
College: Southern California
NFL draft: 1974 / Round: 1 / Pick: 21
Career history
As administrator:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions: 336
Receiving Yards: 5,462
Touchdowns: 51
Stats at

Lynn Curtis Swann (born March 7, 1952) is an American former professional football player, sportscaster, and current politician. In 2006, he was the Republican nominee to run against the incumbent Ed Rendell for Pennsylvania governor.


Early life[edit]

Swann was born in Alcoa, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains near Knoxville.

The Swann family moved to San Mateo, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area when Lynn was 2.[1] As a youth, Swann was raised in neighboring Foster City and attended Junípero Serra High School, where in addition to playing football he was a track star, leaping 24' 10" in the long jump. At the 1970 CIF California State championship meet, Swann won the state title, defeating future Olympic gold medalist Randy Williams.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

On June 10, 1979, during the summer after winning Super Bowl XIII, Swann married Bernadette Robi, the daughter of singer Paul Robi of The Platters. The pair divorced in 1983, and she is currently married to boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.[citation needed]

On June 23, 1991, Swann married Charena (née Shaffer), a psychologist, and they have two sons, Braxton and Shafer. Shafer and Braxton are currently attending Central Catholic High School.[citation needed]

Football career[edit]


Swann attended the University of Southern California, where he was an All-American on the Trojans football team. He played under coach John McKay, including the 1972 undefeated and national championship season. McKay said of Swann, "He has speed, soft hands, and grace."[2] He completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Relations in 1974. In 1993, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[2]

In 1971, Swann had 27 catches for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns. He led USC in catches and finished second to WR Edesel Garrison in receiving yards. In 1972, Swann rushed for 117 yards and had 27 catches for 543 yards and 3 touchdowns. This time he led USC in receiving yards and finished second to tight end Charle Young in catches. In 1973, Swann rushed for 99 yards while catching 42 passes for 714 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Professional career[edit]

Swann (far left) at Super Bowl XLIII with Roger Craig, Roger Goodell, John Elway, and General David Petraeus

Swann was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 21st pick of the first round in the 1974 NFL Draft. The Steelers draft class of '74 is considered one of the best in NFL history and included 4 eventual Hall of Famers: Swann, John Stallworth, Mike Webster, and Jack Lambert.

Swann spent his entire NFL career with the Steelers and wore the jersey number 88. As a rookie, he led the NFL with 577 punt return yards, a franchise record and the fourth most in NFL history at the time. He went on to win a championship ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl IX but did not record any receptions in the tough defensive struggle (Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw completed only nine passes in the game). However, he returned 3 punts for 34 yards.

Swann with Steelers fans before a game in 2006.

The following season became the highlight of Swann's career. He caught 49 passes for 781 yards and a league-leading 11 touchdowns. In the AFC title game against the Oakland Raiders George Atkinson knocked Swann out of the game with a very hard but legal hit. He suffered a severe concussion that forced him to spend two days in a hospital, but surprised many by returning to play for Super Bowl X. Swann recorded four catches for a Super Bowl record 161 yards and a touchdown in the game, assisting the Steelers to a 21–17 win and becoming the first wide receiver to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

Swann was unique among football players in that he credited his experiences in dance earlier in life with contributing to his aptitude on the football field. A 1981 interview which aired on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood showed him on the field, and then in the Pittsburgh dance studio where he later underwrote scholarships.[3]

Three seasons later the Steelers made it to Super Bowl XIII. In the game, Swann caught seven passes for 124 yards and scored the final touchdown for Pittsburgh in their 35–31 win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers made it back to the Super Bowl again in the 1979 season, and Swann caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's 31–19 win in Super Bowl XIV. Overall, Swann gained 364 receiving yards and 398 all-purpose yards in his four Super Bowls, which were both Super Bowl records at the time.

Swann retired after the 1982 season with four Super Bowl rings. He amassed 336 career receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns, along with 72 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and 739 punt return yards and a touchdown. He was a Pro Bowl selection three times 1975, 1977, 1978 and was selected on the 1970s All-Decade Team.

Swann was named an All-Pro Team Selection in 1975, 1977, and 1978. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, a year before his teammate John Stallworth. He was also selected to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team by Hall of Fame voters.

After football[edit]

Swann (right) signs an autograph for Marine Corps Sgt. Charles Heller.

On January 11, 1983 Swann announced his retirement from the Steelers. [1]

Swann went on to serve as a director on the boards of H J Heinz Co., Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Wyndham International. He was a football and sports broadcaster for ABC Sports from 1976–2006, but left to run for Pennsylvania governor.

Swann briefly hosted the television game show To Tell the Truth, on which he had previously appeared as a panelist before replacing original host Gordon Elliott, on NBC from 1990 to 1991. His fourteen-week run as emcee ended, and he was replaced by Alex Trebek. He made a cameo appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

During his time at ABC, Lynn Swann began his broadcasting career in 1976 while still active with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Upon retirement in January, 1983, Swann began his career full-time with ABC Sports, which ended after the 2006 Sugar Bowl. Swann has broadcast a variety of events as a host, reporter, and analyst. Included in these events are: the 1976 Winter Olympics, the 1976 Summer Olympics, the 1980 Winter Olympics, the 1984 Winter Olympics, the 1984 Summer Olympics, the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Iditarod Trail sled dog race, International Diving Championships, USFL, college football and Monday Night Football, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, the Irish Derby, ABC's Wide World of Sports, and Curt Gowdy's The American Sportsman

Swann was the sideline reporter on CBS' "Clash of Champions" bowling telecast that aired on May 10–11, 2008. He teamed with color analyst Nelson Burton Jr. and play-by-play man Bill Macatee. The broadcast marked bowling's return to network television for the first time since 1999 when CBS carried it.

Swann made an appearance, playing himself in the role of a sideline reporter at the "Bourbon Bowl", in the 1998 Adam Sandler comedy feature film The Waterboy. He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame on December 30, 2013 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Political career[edit]

Lynn Swann
Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
In office
June 20, 2002 – July 30, 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Lee Haney
Succeeded by John P. Burke
Personal details
Born Lynn Curtis Swann
(1952-03-07) March 7, 1952 (age 63)
Alcoa, Tennessee
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Charena Swann
Children Two sons
Alma mater Southern California
Religion Christian

Physical Fitness and Sports Council Chairman[edit]

On June 20, 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Swann as the Chairman of the United States President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports during a Fitness Expo at the White House.[4] Swann succeeded Lee Haney, who had been appointed to the post by President Clinton.

In 2003, President Bush and Chairman Lynn Swann launched at the Lakewest Family YMCA in Dallas, Texas. Within the next year, 300,000 individuals registered on the website. Swann spoke at the National Press Club about the Council's programs to help Americans "Be Physically Active Every Day," and introduced the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.

In 2004, Swann and President Bush declared May as an annual "National Physical Fitness and Sports" month, and created the annual HealthierUS Fitness Festival. They also enacted the the Healthier Feds Physical Activity Challenge initiative for federal employees. On July 30, 2005, Lynn Swann retired as Council Chairman and was succeeded by John P. Burke.

2006 candidacy for governor[edit]

In December 2004, Swann, who resides in the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley Heights, Pennsylvania, indicated that he was considering seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2006 election. On February 23, 2005, Swann filed papers with the state elections board stating his intention to run. On the same day he formed a fundraising committee called Team 88 after his Steeler jersey number. On January 4, 2006, Swann formally declared his candidacy for Governor of Pennsylvania.[5]

Swann's opponents for the Republican primary had initially included Jim Panyard, State Senator Jeff Piccola, and former Lieutenant Governor William Scranton, III. After Swann received the endorsement of the Republican state committee on February 11, 2006, all three opponents quit the race, leaving Swann as the only Republican to have filed by the deadline of March 7, 2006. Swann chose Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews as his running mate.

Polls in early February showed Swann and Rendell in a statistical tie,[6] though Rendell had the advantage of being the popular incumbent.[7] Swann's campaign focused on reforming Harrisburg by addressing mass transit, property tax, law enforcement, the environment and the growing concern of obesity. He also supported giving the Pittsburgh Penguins Pittsburgh's lone slots license so they could build a new arena, free of taxpayer money.

In the end, Swann lost the election with 40% of the vote to incumbent Ed Rendell's 60%. Had Swann won, he would have been the first African-American governor of Pennsylvania and only the third African-American elected governor of a state in U.S. history. Of the three African American gubernatorial candidates in 2006, only one (Massachusetts' Deval Patrick, a Democrat) won; Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, lost in Ohio.

2008 to present[edit]

In 2008, Swann confirmed that he was considering running for the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district against Rep. Jason Altmire.[8] However, Swann did not file for the election and former congresswoman Melissa Hart won the Republican nomination unopposed and then lost to Altmire in the 2008 general election.[9]

In October 2009, Swann joined the Augusta National Golf Club. He is a dues-paying member of the home of the Masters golf tournament, which is held every April.

On August 19, 2010, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Swann would be a part of the ownership team for Pittsburgh's AFL expansion franchise, which began playing in the spring of 2011.[10] Named the Pittsburgh Power, the team shares the new Consol Energy Center with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League. Swann has said that, despite his football experience, he doesn′t interfere in the day-to-day coaching, although he will occasionally give some advice.[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]