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Irrelevant Week CEO optimistic about celebration

Late June is traditionally when the last player picked in the NFL draft is roasted and toasted in Newport Beach during Irrelevant Week.

But for University of Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder, chosen by the New York Giants as the 255th and final selection to earn the distinction of Mr. Irrelevant XLV, the 2020 Irrelevant Week honoree is still waiting to hear whether the party is on.

Irrelevant Week would need to be held before training camp in July.

No date has been set since the NFL draft two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Irrelevant Week CEO Melanie Fitch, the daughter of founder Paul Salata, is optimistic that Crowder will be a featured guest this summer.

“We are watching to see what guidance is given about gatherings of people,” Fitch said. “I think the longer we wait, the better our possibilities to celebrate Mr. Irrelevant in tune with how we have done so in the past, (such as) presenting him with the Lowsman Trophy, celebrating him, wishing him well in the NFL and honoring him as an underdog who we hope will make the team.”

This year’s NFL draft provided a glimmer of reprieve and entertainment for sports fans in need of some type of football-related action during the government-instituted stay-at-home and social distancing orders because of the pandemic.

The NFL has enjoyed a summer home in Newport Beach since 1976 when Irrelevant Week began honoring the dead-last player selected, a celebration of the underdog with long odds of making the team. At the time, there were nearly twice as many players drafted and Salata started the event for the purpose of “doing something nice for someone for no reason.”

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Crowder, who started all 14 games last season for Georgia and finished second on the team with 62 tackles, is the second Mr. Irrelevant from the Bulldogs, following Donald Chumley in 1985, a defensive tackle selected 336th by the 49ers. Chumley did not play in the NFL.

Among the most notable Mr. Irrelevant honorees are Ryan Succop, an All-Pro kicker for the Tennessee Titans, and Marty Moore, who played in Super Bowl XXXI for the New England Patriots.

In the history of the Irrelevant Week, there have been eight defensive backs, eight wide receivers, eight tight ends, seven quarterbacks, five linebackers, three running backs, three defensive linemen, two kickers, one center and no offensive tackles or guards taken in the final pick.

In 45 Irrelevant years, there have been 22 different teams choosing last with the draftee given red-carpet treatment at parties, parades and festivities, highlighted by the Lowsman Trophy Banquet.

This year marks the third time for the Giants at Irrelevant Week, following Larry Wanke (John Carroll quarterback) in 1991 and John Tuggle (Cal running back) in 1983.

The so-called cousin to the Heisman Trophy, the Lowsman Trophy is a replica of the Heisman, but the bronze player is fumbling the football.

Irrelevant Week is about laughs and giggles, but is serious about fundraising, having donated more than $1 million to Orange County charities, including the Special Olympics of Southern California, American Cancer Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Goodwill Industries, YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, NFL Alumni, American Red Cross and Orange County Youth Sports Association.

Richard Dunn, a longtime sportswriter, writes the Dunn Deal column regularly for The Orange County Register’s weekly, The Coastal Current North.

Source: Orange County Register

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