Monday, April 27, 2009

"Mr. Irrelevant"

Every football fan knows the NFL Draft was held this past weekend, with the Detroit Lions selecting Matthew Stafford with the coveted first pick. Stafford and all the other first-round picks have gotten a lot of attention as the focus now shifts to how (and if) they will be able to help their new teams and to the big contracts they will all sign. A side question: what kind of system rewards the newest, most unproven people with the most money?
But the first rounders don’t always get all of the attention. Every year, the last pick in the draft is honored as “Mr. Irrelevant” by a group in California created and headed up by former NFL wide receiver Paul Salata, who played in the NFL for one year. Salata’s group invites Mr. Irrelevant to Newport Beach for “Irrelevant Week” and the awarding of the “Lowsman Trophy” (opposite of “Heisman” and pictured above) It’s all in great fun, the proceeds go to benefit the Orange County Goodwill Fitness Center, and the designee often joins the festivities to be part of the scene. This has been going on since 1976, and according to the group’s website (, there will be lots of enjoyable activities to greet this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Ryan Succop, from the University of South Carolina, chosen as the 256th overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, you’d think the last overall pick in the draft wouldn’t stand much of a chance of success, and sometimes you’d be right. Some Mr. Irrelevants didn’t even make the roster of the team that drafted them (anyone heard from Cam Quayle, 1998’s Mr. Irrelevant?), but there have been some surprises. According to, there are currently four past “winners” playing in the league, Bill Kenney (1978) was a Pro Bowl player, and Marty Moore (1994) became the first “Mr. I” to play in a Super Bowl.
This got me thinking about how often we might miss talented players, employees, colleagues, and others in our midst. How many “Mr. or Ms. Irrelevants” are in our lives? These might be the people who would be last on our list, but have the potential to surprise us with their talents and abilities if we only take the time to notice them.
This summer when the NFL teams go to training camp, while everyone else is watching the top picks, I’ll be keeping an eye on Ryan Succop, a really good kicker from South Carolina. When I’m watching him, I hope I’ll be reminded to not let anyone in my life be “irrelevant.”

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