By Stan Silliman
Trying to do a column today without mentioning Kirby Puckett’s glass eye being the only thing surviving his cremation is a little like trying to explain basketballer Chris Kamen’s anatomical items tugged on by Denver Nugget Reggie Evans were not his Islands but rather… uh, uh… not to bring up a certain team… his nuggets. Some things are difficult to resist.
So instead, we’ll avoid relevant subjects like the above and go directly to the NFL Draft, which, in case you didn’t notice, is now a television event rivaling Sominex. The first round holds some interest because selected players will likely impact their teams but beyond that, it’s like watching Jack Nicklaus putt. “No, Honey, I can’t get up and switch off the lights. Jack’s going to stroke it any minute now.”
The only real excitement beyond the first round is to see who gets selected last player in
the last round, the guy who’ll never suit up. The guy, should he ever make a team, RUDY will carry on his shoulders. The guy who, if he were on American Idol, makes Simon Cowell roll his eyes the moment he walks in the room. Of course, we’re talking about Mr. Irrelevant.
That’s the cutesy name given the last player drafted, and you know what, that spot’s not so bad. It’s the spot just before Mr. Irrelevant that’s bad. You fell all the way to the end of the draft and instead of being pick number 255, you’re 254… Mr-One-Guy-Ahead-of-Mr.-Irrelevant.
But this year being Mr. Irrelevant, Kevin McMahan from the University of Maine, gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Newport Beach, California in June as the Irrelevant Week guest of honor. He’ll get the Lowsman Trophy (opposite of Heisman, get it) and participate in a golf tournament, banquet, parade, parties and a regatta. It’s a fun week celebrating the underdog, first thought up by Paul Salata in 1976, back when the NFL draft went fifteen rounds instead of seven. Oh, geez, don’t we wish ESPN marathoned the NFL draft back then? I could’ve set the TV right next to the lava lamp and zoned on it for three days straight. Yes,I know, lava lamps were already passe’ in 1976, but I still had one.
Mr. Irrelevant is not so bad. You’re a football player good enough to get drafted. Last place but still drafted. Marcus Vick, quarterback from Virginia Tech and brother of Michael, didn’t get drafted. KeJuan Jones, star running back from OU, didn’t get drafted. Red Buttons, old comedian from New York, who did a bit just like the one I’m doing now, didn’t get drafted.
The Lowsman Trophy, coveted by all lower round draftees and depicting a wide receiver fumbling the ball, was first given in 1979 to wide receiver Mike Almond. He was a little nutty (beside the point) guy drafted by the Steelers and although he did drop the ball in tryout camp, a lot, he’ll tell you the main reasons he didn’t make the team were named Swann and Stallworth.
Of the 29 Mr. Irrelevants, 17 were either cut in training camp or before the seasons start. Some of these players went to NFL Europe, some went to the Canadian League, others became civilians. Twelve MIs made rosters and had varying degrees of success. The most successful was Marty Moore, drafted in 1994 by the Patriots. Marty played in 106 games including Super Bowl XXXI. There, see, not all bad.
If someone tells you you’re irrelevant, just shout back “Where’s my Lowsman?” Then whip out this article and tell them “I might be irrelevant but I’m not Mr. Irrelevant.” And then they’ll say “You’re buying all this? It’s written by a guy named Silliman.” And then you can say, “That’s Mr. Silliman.”
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