May 3, 2006

Last NFL Draft Pick Receives Honors, Too

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The NFL Draft may be over now, but sports fans continue to discuss the nuances and details of the big event. Should Mario Williams have been the first pick? Is Reggie Bush going to be one of the greats? Whatever, whatever. Let’s not forget about the last pick in the draft – the so-called Mr. Irrelevant.

Mr. Irrelevant this year is a wide receiver named Kevin McMahan. McMahan – who is originally from Rochester – played for Division I-AA Maine, and was picked by the Oakland Raiders with the last pick in the seventh round.

He’ll have to work hard to make the Oakland roster. But, more importantly, he’ll soon be heading down to Southern California for a legendary event – in June, he will become the sole honoree at the 31st annual “Mr. Irrelevant Week” celebration in Newport Beach, Calif.

It’s a five-day event that will honor McMahan for, well, being the last pick in the draft. It all started in 1976, when an ex-football player named Paul Salata put together the first Irrelevant Week as a kind of joke to “do something nice for someone for no reason.” Since then, it has morphed into a fairly popular local booster and charity event.

The five-day extravaganza will start with a Chamber of Commerce sponsored arrival party. On Day 2, McMahan will visit Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. The next day, however, is the highlight of the week, as the “Lowsman Trophy” will be awarded (Lowsman, as in the opposite of the Heisman Trophy). There is apparently some kind of sailing regatta on Day 4, and then the week is closed out with a parade on the final day.

Now, despite the Mr. Irrelevant title, some recent final picks have in fact made the rosters of NFL teams, and a few have even had a degree of success in the league.

New York Giants fans probably know fullback Jim Finn as a key blocker for running back Tiki Barber. The Penn graduate has been a starter for the Giants over much of the past three years. However, those fans may not realize that Finn was also Mr. Irrelevant 1999, as the Chicago Bears took him with the 253rd overall pick.

Safety Mike Green (Mr. Irrelevant 2000) was also drafted by the Chicago Bears, and he eventually became a starter. Although he was recently traded to Seattle, Green has notched a respectable total of 400 career tackles. He should continue to earn playing time at Qwest Field.

And let’s not forget about Mr. Irrelevant 1978, Bill Kenney, who became a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1983. He later went onto a successful career in state politics in Missouri, demonstrating that irrelevance need not be limited to the football field.

Anyway, when all this hoopla began thirty years ago, the NFL Draft had a total of 12 rounds, as opposed to the seven rounds it has these days. Mr. Irrelevant was, in fact, even more irrelevant back in the day. So, with fewer picks in the modern draft, there’s a better chance that Mr. Irrelevant may indeed become, well, kind of relevant.

This year’s final pick, McMahan, had a pretty good season last year for Maine. He scored 13 touchdowns and had 59 receptions for 893 yards. He apparently got some attention among pro teams back in September, when he caught a 52-yard touchdown pass in Maine’s 25-7 loss to Nebraska. And some real college football fans may recall McMahan’s game-winning touchdown reception against Mississippi State in 2004, which gave Maine its first-ever win over a Division I-A school.

When Raiders head coach Art Shell was asked to describe his team’s draft result (which included Cornell offensive lineman Kevin Boothe in the sixth round), he noted McMahan’s height and his speed in the 40-yard dash.

“The last guy?” Shell said. “He’s 6-2, and he can run a 4.4 … he’s kind of exciting.”

Perhaps he will be exciting enough to find his way into relevance.

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A few sports writers here at The Sun will also be leaving for the future, so let’s show some appreciation to the legendary sage Per Ostman, the knowledgeable veteran Brian Tsao and the always frank editor Chris Mascaro. Good luck guys.

Ted Nyman is a Sun Senior Editor. Fast Times will appear every other Wednesday this semester.

Archived article by Ted Nyman