(NEXSTAR) – We always hear about the players that get selected in the first round of the NFL Draft — Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw, and John Elway are all great examples — but only the guy that’s picked last gets his own title: Mr. Irrelevant.
Since 1976, that coveted title has also come with its own perks.
“We established Irrelevant Week to drive home an important message — that it’s not a negative to be picked last in the NFL Draft; rather, it’s an honor to be drafted at all,” Paul Salata, creator of the award and alumnus of the NFL and Canadian Football League, explained. “The last draft pick’s demonstration of perseverance is [a] lesson that resonates not only with NFL players and fans, but also with people everywhere.”
At the time of its creation, the “Mr. Irrelevant” title-holder and his family were invited to spend a week in Orange County, California, a tradition that continues today. The honoree also receives the Lowsman Trophy, intended to be the exact opposite of the Heisman Trophy, showing a player fumbling a football.
After being selected as Mr. Irrelevant, Irrelevant Week, the organization behind the award, says the player will spend a week attending events held in Newport Beach, California. He and his guests visit Disneyland, attend media events, visit the beneficiary charity (proceeds are collected throughout the week to benefit the selected charity), participate in a sailing regatta in Newport Harbor, and attend either a Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels game to receive special recognition.
At the end of his week, Mr. Irrelevant serves as the guest of honor for the Lowsman Banquet, described as “an evening gala that gives past and present sports stars and celebrities a chance to roast and toast the newest member of this exclusive club.”
The publicity of the award even caused a rift between two teams in 1979. According to the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Rams, with the next-to-last pick, intentionally passed to let the Pittsburgh Steelers, holders of the final pick, go ahead of them. The Steelers also passed and both teams continued to refuse to make a pick.
Eventually, then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle forced them to make a pick, with the Steelers winning. A rule was created, the Salata Rule, to prevent teams from passing in order to get Mr. Irrelevant.
Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, may be one of the most notable recipients of the title. Following injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy found himself as QB1 for the 49ers. He maintained an unbeaten record as a starter until the 49ers lost the NFC Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Before his impressive rookie year, Purdy’s Irrelevant Week included rowing lessons, pizza-making, and, like other Mr. Irrelevants before him, surfing lessons.
Here are the five most recent Mr. Irrelevants and where they were at the end of the 2022 regular season:
- Brock Purdy: San Francisco 49ers
- Grant Stuard: Indianapolis Colts
- Tae Crowder: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Caleb Wilson: Offensive line/tight end assistant coach for Purdue
- Trey Quinn: USFL’s Michigan Panthers
- Chad Kelly: Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League
Mr. Irrelevant from the 2009 NFL Draft class, placekicker Ryan Succop, became the first Mr. Irrelevant to play in and win a Super Bowl in 2021. He was recently released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The creator of Mr. Irrelevant, Salata, passed away from natural causes in 2021 just a day before turning 95.
This year, the 259th pick (held by the Houston Texans, as of Thursday) will become Mr. Irrelevant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.