The very first pick of the NFL Draft has massive expectations on him from the moment he enters the league. His team expects him to single-handedly change the fortunes of the franchise. The very last pick of the NFL Draft has very few expectations on him at all. In fact, he should consider himself lucky to be drafted. This special player does have a name: Mr. Irrelevant.
The history of the NFL’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant’
The idea of Mr. Irrelevant dates back to 1976, and was the brainchild of former NFL wide receiver Paul Salata. He had a brief NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts, and also had a two-year run in the Canadian Football League.
According to Forbes, Salata was friends with then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. When he asked the commissioner if he could do something special for the 1976 NFL Draft, Rozelle agreed. Thus was crafted the “Mr. Irrelevant” moniker, the name for the last player picked each year in the NFL Draft.
1976 was also the year of the first “Irrelevant Week”, a special ceremony for Mr. Irrelevant in Newport Beach, Calif. Among the festivities, the player receives the “Lowsman Trophy” — a parody of the Heisman Trophy which depicts a player in mid-fumble.
“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,” says Salata, per the event’s official website.
Salata himself had the honor of announcing the final pick at the draft each year until 2013. The following year, his daughter, Melanie Salata-Fitch, took over.
Mr. Irrelevant faces a long, hard climb in the NFL
Unfortunately, “Irrelevant Week” is usually the high point of a “Mr. Irrelevant” player’s NFL career. Most of these draft picks are lucky to make the roster of the team that drafts them, let alone stick around for multiple years.
To date, the last ten Mr. Irrelevant selections have played in a combined 42 games, and all but three are out of the league entirely. 2012’s final draft pick, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish, never played a snap in the NFL and now works as a sales estimator in Indiana.
The New York Giants seem to have had better luck with their seventh-round pick, Tae Crowder. The Georgia linebacker did what few Mr. Irrelevant players in history have ever done. He not only made the roster, but actively contributed to the team through much of his rookie season. In week six, he recovered a fumble and returned it for the Giants’ winning touchdown in a 20-19 victory.
From Mr. Irrelevant to Super Bowl champion?
Only one Mr. Irrelevant draft pick in history has broken through the pack to earn a Super Bowl ring. That player is Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop, the last player off the board in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Technically, the first Mr. Irrelevant pick to take part on a Super Bowl team is fullback Jim Finn, picked by the Chicago Bears in 1999. Finn was part of the 2007 New York Giants roster that won Super Bowl XLII. However, he did not actually play a game that season, as he was on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury. The Giants cut him after the season.
On the other hand, Succop is, by far, the most relevant Mr. Irrelevant player of all time. After 12 years with three different teams, he has ascended into the top 50 on the NFL’s all-time scoring list. His victory in Super Bowl LV made him the first Mr. Irrelevant to win a Super Bowl as an active player. Ironically, it was the team he helped beat, the Kansas City Chiefs, who selected him back in 2009.