"Irrelevant Week" arose in 1976, when former Southern California and NFL receiver Paul Salata founded the event in Newport Beach, California. He continues to announce the final pick of the NFL draft to this day; however, in 2014 his daughter announced the pick in his absence. During the summer after the draft, the new Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to spend a week in Newport Beach, California, where they enjoy a golf tournament, a regatta, a roast giving advice to the new draftee, and a ceremony awarding him the Lowsman Trophy. The trophy mimics the Heisman, but depicts a player fumbling a football.
"Irrelevant Week" gave so much publicity to "Mr. Irrelevant" that in 1979 the Los Angeles Rams, with the penultimate pick, intentionally passed to let the Pittsburgh Steelers, with the last pick, choose first. The Steelers also wanted the publicity and passed as well. The two teams continued to refuse to choose a player until NFL CommissionerPete Rozelle forced the teams to pick. The incident led to the "Salata Rule", which prohibits teams from passing to get the final pick.
As the NFL draft was cut eventually to its current seven-round format in 1994, more often, players presented with this dubious honor in the seven-round era have nevertheless succeeded in making the team that drafted them, with significant contributions on the field.
2009 winnerRyan Succop became the starting kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, and kicked a winning field goal to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 22, 2009. He went on to tie the NFL record for highest field goal percentage by a rookie in a season with 86.2%, and also passed NFL Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud for most field goals made by a rookie in Chiefs history. Succop was awarded the Mack Lee Hill Award that year. He has been the starting kicker since his rookie season making 81.5% of his field goals and a perfect 100% on extra points. Succop moved on to the Tennessee Titans for the 2014 season.
One "Mr. Irrelevant" (who actually predated the award by nearly a decade) went on to a productive professional career in another sport. Jimmy Walker was the final pick in 1967 despite never having played college football. His main sport, however, was basketball, in which he was a consensus All-American and the nation's leading scorer as a senior at Providence. Walker was the first pick in the 1967 NBA Draft, and opted for a career in the NBA.
Mr. Irrelevant "winners" and other final selections
^Although some contemporary sources list Don Nottingham, who had a seven-year career in the NFL, as the last pick of this draft, the Oakland Raiders passed when their time came to pick in the last round and wound up choosing last.