Tags: Lynn | Swann: | I'm | Running | for | Governor

Lynn Swann: I'm Running for Governor

Thursday, 22 September 2005 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Whatever hesitancy was left in Pro-Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann's exploring a candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania seemed to vanish like a galloping ghost Wednesday night as the sports broadcaster and charities promoter ran into the political end zone with a keynote speech before a gathering of Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC), the nation's leading conservative African-American PAC, at the J.W. Marriott hotel.

In a warm and engaging talk, Swann, who followed booming speeches by no less than former presidential candidate Dr. Alan Keyes and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, firmly tossed his hat in the ring to contest incumbent Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, in 2006. "I'm running to be the next governor of Pennsylvania."

Acknowledging the long shot, Swann noted, "Look, it took me 14 years to get elected to the Hall of Fame. I felt like Susan Lucci waiting on the Emmy." Swann was inducted in 2001 after collecting four Super Bowl rings and playing in three Pro-Bowls.

Swann also said he was comforted by the fact that only a fraction of the nation's sitting governors came to their present positions out of another elective office. "Yes, there will be some who say, ‘He's just a football player,'" the candidate added.

Swann described himself as a "Christian, pro-life, who believes in the right to bear arms."

Easygoing and natural, Swann took his attentive audience back to his childhood days in Tennessee, where his father was a porter at the airport.

His parents already had two sons, Brian and Calvin, but his mother wanted to try for a girl. When she got a boy instead, "she decided to name me Lynn anyway. I got the pink bicycle and the pink dress."

Mom encouraged her youngest son in ballet, tap and jazz dancing, and told everyone she knew, "My son's going to be a dancer."

But Swann discovered football in the seventh grade and there was no looking back. By the time he graduated from high school, he was being recruited by Cornell, Notre Dame, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.

Against all advice to the contrary, Swann opted for USC, where he joined a freshman squad that was populated by "no less than 44 All-Americans."

Swann settled in his role as wide receiver and helped lead the USC team to the nationals and the Rose Bowl.

Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Swann said, "My every dream came true in my first two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers."

He was quick to qualify, however, with the startling conclusion he came to later on - that success with the Steelers was just the tip of a hidden wealth of opportunity that lay ahead.

"I didn't know. No one told me. I wasn't trained to understand how much more there was. We realize only a small fraction of the potential we have in this country."

Swann, who has been with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America for a quarter century, related how his mission with that organization has always been to "show kids what real possibilities are."

"My parents gifted me with courage, disciple and the ability to stand on my own two feet. I like to reach back and pass that experience on…"

"People always ask me what were the best four years – the days at USC, with the Steelers … The fact is that the best four years for me are the always the last four years."

In closing, Swann beseeched the audience for all the help they could provide. "If you already live and vote in Pennsylvania, that's fine. If not, we'll get you a real estate agent to set you up."

For his part, Ken Mehlman challenged the mostly Black audience to help make whole again "the party of Lincoln and the party of Frederick Douglas."

Touching on the Katrina disaster, he lambasted "the failure of the welfare state … it just didn't deliver."

He led a cheer for President Bush's plans to partially privatize Social Security. "Four out of ten Blacks in this country have only social security to fall back on."

Mehlman also reminded the audience about John Kerry's refrain in the last election where he wanted folks to just start putting money into 401K plans. "The issue is, of course, that many people live from paycheck to paycheck, and there's no money left to put in a 401K."

Allan Keyes, the BAMPAC Board of Directors chairman, roused the audience with the challenge to "stand up for God in this country!"

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Whatever hesitancy was left in Pro-Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann's exploring a candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania seemed to vanish like a galloping ghost Wednesday night as the sports broadcaster and charities promoter ran into the political end...
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2005-00-22
Thursday, 22 September 2005 12:00 AM
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