Celebrating the least important player of the '06 NFL draft
Posted: Thursday July 13, 2006 11:55AM; Updated: Thursday July 13, 2006 12:34PM
Some moments in football history go down as great and are long remembered for the range of emotions they inspired. Some examples: Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception," Dwight Clark's "Catch," and John Elway's "Drive." While we wait for the next one, we can be pretty sure it won't have anything to do with Mr. Irrelevant: the last guy picked in the NFL Draft.
Each year, the owner of this dubious distinction is roasted, toasted and feted in a week-long fiesta in Newport Beach, Calif. that has come to be known as "Irrelevant Week."
The concept of irrelevance is something we can all relate to, especially former USC split end-turned-community-philanthropist and businessman Paul Salata, who created this tribute to obscurity. "It's always been that a few stars get the attention and they always have something nice to say about their supporting cast," said Salata. "So I figured those people were important, too."
This year's winner, Kevin McMahan, a wide receiver from Maine, found himself at the kickoff event to Irrelevant Week -- the 31st annual Lowsman Banquet (not quite the Heisman, get it?). More than 200 people gathered to watch McMahan get laughed at -- and with -- and appreciated for no other reason than the fact that he's there. It was a celebration of the underdog in all his unknown glory.
The tradition began in 1976, when Delton University wide receiver Kelvin Kirk was drafted No. 487, by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 12th and final round. The very last pick was about as consequential as a high school summer romance, so he was naturally the perfect candidate to spend a week being treated like a king. Incidentally, Kirk missed his flight to Newport Beach and a look-alike was filled in until the real Mr. Irrelevant showed up in the middle of the celebration. Apparently, shame is also irrelevant.
By 1979, the event and title of Mr. Irrelevant had become extremely coveted. In fact, during the '79 draft, the then-Los Angeles Rams had the next-to-last pick and passed in order to let the team behind them -- the Steelers -- choose. The Rams would then be allowed to make their final pick.