“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.”
It might be a stretch to blame Johnson for the Lions’ lack of success. Johnson was drafted at the tail end of Matt Millen’s seven-year run as CEO/general manager.
The Lions didn’t get Johnson a quarterback until 2009, when they drafted Matthew Stafford, and he didn’t play a full 16-game season until 2011. Some would argue that even today, Stafford is a product of Johnson’s ability to draw double teams and dominate.
As far as individual accomplishments go, Johnson has a lot of them. In 2012, he broke the all-time NFL single-season receiving yards record with 1,964 yards. During his nine-year career, Johnson has led the league in receiving yards twice (2011, 2012), receptions once (2012) and touchdowns once (2008).
Johnson’s impact wasn’t limited to the state sheet. He changed the way defenses defended the Lions’ offense and commanded extra attention. Despite seeing constant double-teams, he continued to dominate throughout his entire career, even after a nagging ankle injury limited him during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
In nine seasons, Johnson has 731 receptions, 11,619 yards and 73 touchdowns. These may be eye-popping numbers to us, but they’re not quite dominant enough to get Swann’s approval. Johnson has made the postseason just twice and he has never been on the winning end of a postseason game.
“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.”
In nine seasons before retiring, Swann finished with 336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns. He won four Super Bowl championships during the 1970s with the Steelers.