San Francisco — If Calvin Johnson retires, many people will debate whether he’s worthy of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer for the next five years.

One Hall of Famer wide receiver, though, made a case for why Johnson might not receive the honor at all.

“I would think that it would be difficult for Calvin Johnson at this point to be considered a Hall of Famer,” Steelers legend Lynn Swann said. “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.”

Johnson, 30, is considering retirement due to health concerns after just nine seasons. Swann played nine years in the NFL and never eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season, but he won four Super Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl X.

During the past nine seasons, the Lions made the postseason just twice and didn’t win a playoff 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.”

Swann wasn’t a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, either. He retired after the 1982 season and wasn’t inducted until 2001.

As for the debate about Johnson being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, it became harder to argue in favor after Terrell Owens failed to make it Saturday in his first year. Owens ranks second all-time in receiving yards while Johnson is 27th.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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