Mr. Irrelevant is the nickname given to the last pick of the annual National Football League draft. Although the NFL draft dates back to 1936, the first person to be called Mr. Irrelevant was Kelvin Kirk of the 1976 draft. “Mr. Irrelevant” and “Irrelevant Week” began in 1976 when Paul Salata founded the event. He announced the final pick of each NFL draft until 2013. After each year’s draft, the new Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to spend a week in Southern California, which includes a trip to Disneyland, golf tournament, a roast giving advice to the new draftee and a ceremony awarding him the Lowsman Trophy. The trophy spoofs the Heisman Trophy, however, it depicts a player fumbling the football.
The first Mr. Irrelevant to play in the Super Bowl was Marty Moore, a special teams player who played with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI against the Green Bay Packers. Tyrone McGriff was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the last pick in 1980’s 12th round. He was perhaps the most successful Mr. Irrelevant from the pre-1994 era as he made the 1980 NFL All-Rookie Team and played two more seasons for the Steelers. John Tuggle started five games as a fullback his rookie year, and was named the 1983 New York Giants Special Teams Player of the Year. However, during the 1984 training camp, he was diagnosed with cancer. He never played again and died in 1986. Ryan Succop, the 2009 Mr. Irrelevant, became the starting kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has been a starting kicker every year since his rookie season. Succop moved on to the Tennessee Titans for the 2014 season and then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, where he won a Super Bowl.
Which brings us to Mr. Irrelevant 2022, quarterback Brock Purdy from Iowa State, the 262nd pick in the 7th round. Most 7th-round picks are an afterthought with little chance to make the team. The goal of any 7th-round pick is to survive training camp, hopefully do something to impress the coaches during pre-season games and make the roster. Most 7th-round picks are cut during training camp.
This season started with the 49ers playing marginally on offense as they started off with a 3-4 record. Most talking heads sports pundits were writing off the 49ers. Then the offense picked up as the 49ers won 10 games in a row to close out their season 13-4. During this 10-game winning streak, Jimmy GQ injured his ankle and in steps Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy. All Purdy did was win six games in row for the 49ers as a rookie, seven counting their Wild Card win over the Seattle Seahawks. Of all the starting QBs in the playoffs, the QB with the highest passing rating was none other than Purdy.
Before we write the next Disney Cinderella screenplay of a player coming out of nowhere to win a Super Bowl, Purdy’s got three more games to play and win — this weekend’s divisional round, next weekend’s NFC championship game and then the Super Bowl. If Purdy somehow pulls off this miracle, he will join rarified company. In 1998, Kurt Warner of Northern Iowa finally made an NFL roster at the age of 27, ancient for a rookie after bouncing around the Arena Football League and World Football League. In the 1999 pre-season, starting QB Trent Green was injured and Warner took over as QB. Who can forget head coach Dick Vermeil crying at the post-game press conference stating, “We will rally behind Kurt Warner”? The rest of the NFL laughed at Rams, until “the Greatest Show on Turf” went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl with Warner being named MVP of the game.
Two years later, Warner and the Rams played the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, guided by 2nd year QB Tom Brady, a 6th-round draft pick. The Rams were favored by 14 points and no one gave the Patriots a chance. Legends are born somewhere and Brady’s status as the GOAT started this game. With only 1:30 left in the game, Brady drove the Patriots 53 yards with no timeouts to put them in Adam Vinatieri field goal range to win the Super Bowl.
Enjoy the remaining NFL playoff games as the 49ers have the #1 defense in the league. Oh yeah, their rookie QB is looking Purdy darn good.
Matthew Owen resides in Eureka and believes the First Amendment allows for free speech. He can be reached at email@example.com.