Getting picked last rarely has its perks, but since 1976, getting picked last in the NFL Draft has been a coveted prize.
We always hear about who gets picked in the first round – 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.
Paul Salata, who played football for the University of Southern California, the NFL, and the Canadian Football League, created the Mr. Irrelevant Award.
“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,” Salata explained on an ‘about’ page for Irrelevant Week. “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 player 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, which shows a player fumbling a football.
After being selected as Mr. Irrelevant, 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, Grant Stuard, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His week in Orange County included surfing lessons and a pub crawl, the LA Times reported. A fellow Buccaneer, placekicker Ryan Succop who was picked last in the 2009 draft, became the first Mr. Irrelevant to play in and win a Super Bowl in 2021.
Here are the five most recent Mr. Irrelevants and where they are now:
- Grant Stuard: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tae Crowder: New York Giants
- Caleb Wilson: Free agent, most recently with the Denver Broncos
- Trey Quinn: Denver Broncos
- Chad Kelly: Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League
The creator of Mr. Irrelevant, Salata, passed away from natural causes in 2021 just a day before turning 95.
This year, the 262nd pick will become Mr. Irrelevant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.