Chairman, President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Live Webcast Jan. 15, 2003, 1pm ET/10am PT
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Football fans are usually glad to see Lynn Swann on the job in his capacity as a reporter for ABC Sports. He's amiable, professional and to the point, whether it's covering a football playoff game or the Olympic bobsled competition.
But those who remember Swann's playing days would be happier still to see him back on the field -- or more to the point, soaring high above the field to make yet another seemingly impossible catch with acrobatic ease. He looks as if he could still do it, too, even at age 50. It's his continuing devotion to good health that makes him an apt spokesman for the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
As a wide receiver, Swann combined extraordinary elegance with lunch-pail toughness. He had one of his greatest games in Super Bowl XIII, making a decisive touchdown catch in Pittsburgh's 35-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He did it coming off a concussion in the AFC championship game that many assumed would sideline him for the Super Bowl.
The grace came in part from ballet lessons. He has often joked about the juxtaposition of ballet and football. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, he made this reference: "You try leaving football practice with a pair of tights -- named Lynn -- at an all-boys Catholic school. You'll find yourself learning a few moves."
The toughness came from inside, and helped endear him to the hard-nosed, steel-belt football fans of Pittsburgh, where he had arrived as a first-round pick from the University of Southern California in 1974, just as the once-lowly Steelers were developing into one of pro football's greatest dynasties.
He performed just as well off the field as he did between the lines. In 1981, Swann was named the NFL's Man of the Year -- a tribute not to his athletic talent, but to his community service. He is a national director of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America program, and with a nod to his own youth, established a scholarship program for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater school.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened its door to Swann in 2001, after more than a decade of disappointment and furious efforts by fans, teammates and competitors alike to make sure the grid shrine in Canton recognized greatness.
Swann, who still does 300 sit-ups in a given workout, realizes he would serve as an extreme model for physical well-being. Not everyone can be Lynn Swann. So in a chat on the White House Web site soon after taking his job, he offered this advice:
"My recommendation is for everyone to do an exercise program that they will continue to do on a consistent basis. You canít do what I do unless youíre willing to do it all the time... So you need to find something thatís good for you, something that you enjoy."
Read a transcript of a Web chat with Lynn Swann on fitness.
Visit Lynn Swann's Pro Football Hall of Fame Page.
Read a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on Lynn Swann's role with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Enjoy a few Lynn Swann quotes.