Football Great Lynn Swan Backs NFL Blackout Rule
Burt Levine | 6/26/2014, 1 p.m. | Updated on 6/26/2014, 1 p.m.
NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, the former Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl MVP, traveled to Houston Monday to urge the Federal Communications Commission to keep in place the NFL Blackout Rule that prevents local football games from being broadcast if they are not sold out within 72 hours of the kick-off.
"The blackout rule is beneficial because it encourages a full stadium, which helps fire up the home team. I know if the fans fill the stadium the team is motivated and plays a better game. The city, county and local community benefit from the private and publically owned stadium being full because revenue is generated to keep the stadiums in business and local restaurants and other facilities around the stadiums are fired up from fans and their families celebrating the success of their local teams doing well," Swan said to the Greenway Plaza area Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
As a 1974 rookie Swan 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 that year and the following season became the highlight of his career when he caught 49 passes for 781 yards and a league-leading 11 touchdowns.
"I want to encourage football live attendance. I know what it has done for Pittsburgh. I know what it has meant for Pennsylvania and means for all of America," said Swan, who was a nominee for Pennsylvania Governor in 2006 and later ran for Congress from Pennsylvania.
In his second season he played for Super Bowl X where he 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.
He retired with four Super Bowl Rings having helped the Steelers make it to Super Bowl XIII. In that game, Swann caught seven passes for 124 yards and scored the final touchdown for Pittsburgh in its 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.
Swan celebrated a 30-year career in broadcasting but still believes the blackout is crucial because "first and foremost a team should be seen by the fans in the stands."
Swan is traveling the country protesting the changing the sports blackout rule after 38 years.
The sports blackout rules were originally adopted nearly 40 years ago when game ticket sales were the main source of revenue for sports leagues. The FCC contends in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. "Changes in the sports industry in the last four decades have called into question whether the sports blackout rules remain necessary."
"Swan challenges the FCC, "I strongly oppose any change in the rule. We are on pace for a historic low number of blackouts since the policy was implemented 40 years ago. It has truly affected very few games the past decade, the blackout rule is very important in supporting NFL stadiums and the ability of NFL clubs to sell tickets and in keeping our games attractive as television programming with large crowds."