Paul Salata, pro player who created Mr. Irrelevant to honor draft’s last pick, dies at 94

Paul Salata, who had a short career as a pro football player but made a more lasting impact by recognizing the last pick in the NFL draft as Mr. Irrelevant, has died at the age of 94.

After playing college football at USC and once catching a touchdown pass in the Rose Bowl, Salata went to the San Francisco 49ers, who were then members of the All-America Football Conference, in 1949. A year later he played for the Baltimore Colts in the NFL, and he also spent time in the Canadian Football League.

But Salata’s greatest success in pro football began in 1976, when he created Irrelevant Week, a series of events to honor the last pick in the NFL draft, dubbed Mr. Irrelevant. Salata would present Mr. Irrelevant with the Lowsman Trophy and throw a parade in his honor, and Irrelevant Week festivities raised money for Southern California charities.

In recent years Salata’s daughter, Melanie Salata Fitch, has taken on most of the responsibilities of seeing to it that the legacy of Mr. Irrelevant continues, even after Salata’s passing.