Born In Alcoa, Tennessee
He was born Lynn Curtis Swann in Alcoa, Tennessee, on March 7, 1952. The third of three boys, Swann first demonstrated his amazing physical ability by walking at the age of 7 months. His mother, disappointed at not having a daughter, persuaded Swann to take dance lessons, which he took to naturally and at which he excelled. Years later, he told Runner's World:"People think football and dancing are so different. They think it's contradictory for a boy to dance, but dancing is a sport." Those dancing lessons were to come in handy later in Swann's football career. The Swann family moved from eastern Tennessee to San Mateo, California,
where he attended Serra High School. A member of his high school's track team, Swann competed in both the pole vault and the long jump, in which event he won the California High School State Championship with a jump of 25 feet, 4 inches. His football career really began at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where Swann enrolled in the fall of 1970 to study public relations.
In his senior year at USC, Swann was a unanimous choice for the college All-American team, further enhancing his desirability to the pro teams. In the 1974 NFL draft, Swann was the Pittsburgh Steelers' first-round pick and the 21st player overall to be selected. During his rookie season with the Steelers, Swann led the league in punt returns with 577 yards on 41 returns, a club record and the fourth best in NFL history. Late in the season, he saw limited action as a wide receiver. However, his touchdown catch in the AFC championship game against the Oakland Raiders cinched the game for the Steelers and laid the groundwork for the rest of Swann's career in the NFL.
Having displayed his talents as a wide receiver late in his rookie year, Swann became a regular in that job his second year with the Steelers. For the 1975 season as a whole, he compiled an impressive record of 49 catches for a total of 781 yards and a league-high 11 touchdowns. Swann ended the Steelers' post-season in a blaze of glory, helping to power Pittsburgh to a 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X. Swann's contributions included four receptions for 161 yards (a Super Bowl record at the time), including an amazing 64-yard catch and run that produced the winning touchdown. He was named Most Valuable Player for Super Bowl X.
A major factor in the success of the Steelers during this period was the teaming of Swann with fellow wide receiver John Stallworth, also drafted in 1974. With the combination of Stallworth and Swann at wide receiver, quarterback Terry Bradshaw had a choice of targets, and opponents couldn't focus all their defensive attention on just one player. Wide receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann competed with one another to be quarterback Terry Bradshaw's number one target. In the process, they made each other better players but remained somewhat cool on a personal level. All that changed after both men had left pro football. When Swann was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, he asked that Stall-worth present him. To boost his former teammate's candidacy for the Hall of Fame, Swann in his acceptance speech said: "I don't think I could be in the Hall of Fame unless there was a John Stallworth. The competition between John and me, the things that we made each other do in terms of working and getting ready, I knew I always had to be ready." Stallworth followed Swann into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
The high point of Swann's pro football career came during the regular season of 1978 when he caught 61 passes for a total of 880 yards and 11 touchdowns. In Super Bowl XIII in January 1979, Swann caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bradshaw that cinched the Steelers' 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Swann's game-winning contribution was particularly impressive since he had not been expected to play at all because of a head injury suffered in the Steelers' AFC championship victory over the Oakland Raiders. In the 1979 season, Swann caught 41 passes for a total of 808 yards and five touchdowns, fueling the Steelers' drive to the playoffs. In Super Bowl XIV, as the Steelers faced off against the Los Angeles Rams, the wide receiver grabbed five passes for a total of 79 yards and a touchdown, powering Pittsburgh past the Rams by a score of 31-19.
During the 1980 regular season, Swann caught 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. The following year he snared 34 passes for 505 yards and five touchdowns. His totals dropped significantly in the strike-shortened regular season of 1982, when Swann caught 18 passes for a total of 265 yards. Long before he retired from the Steelers, Swann had begun laying the groundwork for a life after professional football, beginning to work whenever possible as a commentator for ABC Sports. When he finally left the game after the 1982 season, he moved effortlessly into a full-time broadcasting career in a working atmosphere he already knew intimately. In one of his first big jobs for ABC after leaving football, Swann provided expert commentary in the network's coverage of the United States Football League from 1983 to 1985. During the summer of 1984 he covered the weightlifting coverage at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and four years later, provided commentary for the bobsled competition at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. Swann has also appeared frequently on ABC's Wide World of Sports covering a wide variety of sporting events. Swann lives with wife Charena and two sons in the Pittsburgh area.
Although Swann has made a new life for himself away from professional football, his heart and mind are never far from the game. An avid Steelers fan, he follows the fortunes of his former team closely. Recalling the incomparable thrill of playing in the Super Bowl, he once told an interviewer for Runner's World: "Having 70,000 people in the stands cheering for you like demons for three hours during the Super Bowl, and knowing that millions are watching you on TV worldwide, is not an experience that can be simulated."