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The NFL's Mr. Irrelevant, Trey Quinn, finds relevance in Newport Beach

The NFL's Mr. Irrelevant, Trey Quinn, finds relevance in Newport Beach
Mr. Irrelevant founder Paul Salata shares a laugh with 2018 Mr. Irrelevant Trey Quinn with the Lowsman Trophy sitting in front of them prior to the Lowsman Trophy Banquet at the Balboa Bay Resort on Monday. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Two football players who went to Southern Methodist University descended on the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach Monday night.

Eric Dickerson is an NFL Hall of Fame running back. He showed up to support Trey Quinn, the 256th — and last — pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, at the annual Irrelevant Week Lowsman Trophy Banquet.

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Quinn, the 43rd Mr. Irrelevant, does not lack confidence. He said after being drafted dead last that he considered himself the best receiver in the draft. He caught 114 passes last season, the most in the NCAA.

Dickerson, the former L.A. Rams and Indianapolis Colts great who was the second selection in the 1983 NFL Draft, said before the banquet began that he last came to the Lowsman Banquet about 30 years ago. He came back to support a fellow SMU Mustang, Quinn, who’s from Lake Charles, La.

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“You’re talking about a guy from a small town in Texas (Sealy), 2,000 people and one traffic light,” Dickerson said. “That’s me, and I was the second pick in the draft. I’m pulling for him. I’m always for the underdog, and he went to my school.”

Rooting for the underdog is the whole point of Irrelevant Week, created by Paul Salata and now run by his daughter, Melanie Salata-Fitch. The elder Salata, now 91, did not address the crowd but was present at the festivities, emceed by professional sports broadcaster John Ireland, a Corona del Mar High alumnus.

Plenty of people came on stage to give Mr. Irrelevant advice. Three were former NFL players, including Dickerson, Willie McGinest, who played for the New England Patriots, and Matt Willig, who played for the New York Jets.

Former Angel Chuck Finley was set to address the crowd, but he was gone by the time he was introduced. That was ultimately irrelevant.

“Melanie talked too long and Chuck’s not here,” Ireland said.

What was relevant were the charities that Irrelevant Week raises money for, including the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation, Serving People In Need (SPIN) and Save Our Youth (SOY). The advice the guest speakers, who also included Newport Beach sports agent Leigh Steinberg, gave to Quinn also seemed to be relevant.

McGinest, the long-time New England Patriot, reminded Quinn that Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick.

“You have the same opportunity,” McGinest said. “It’s about what you do with it. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”

Ireland finished each of the speakers’ interviews with Quinn with a silly game. He had Quinn try to draw the Redskins logo, but the drawing resembled anything but the actual logo.

“It looks more like a girl than an Indian,” Ireland said.

Neither Dickerson nor Quinn knew the SMU fight song, “the Pony Battle Cry,” which was also ultimately irrelevant. But like all Mr. Irrelevants at the Lowsman Banquet, Quinn got in the last word after being presented the Lowsman Trophy, which shows a player fumbling the ball.

“I plan on keeping my name around for a while, and obviously representing what we have here,” he said. “If I never show up in Louisiana again, Mom and Dad, you know where I’ll be.”

Costa Mesa High cheerleading coach Kori Johnson received the third annual Paul Salata Award, for exemplifying the spirit and compassion of Salata in the community.

Earlier Monday, Quinn threw out the “Irrelevant Pitch” at Angel Stadium before the Angels faced the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was called that because the pitch came just after 3 p.m., hours before game time and with no fans around.

Quinn threw out the pitch to his younger brother, Carter, an incoming high school senior who is signed to play baseball at South Alabama. Trey also grew up playing baseball, and threw a no-hitter in the 2008 Little League World Series.

That’s irrelevant to football, but Carter was the one who seemed to enjoy himself the most at Angel Stadium. When the family was ready to leave the field, he lagged behind, saying that he was almost lost in the batting cages.

“We’re looking at the future,” Trey Quinn said. “In a couple of years, he’ll be playing right here. He’s coming out here and seeing what there is to look forward to.”

After leaving the field, the Quinn family got to see Albert Pujols take a couple of swings in an indoor training room. Then it was time to leave Anaheim for Newport Beach, just in time for rush hour.

A member of the Quinn entourage yawned as the group walked along the field level.

“It’s been a long week,” Dave Quinn, Trey’s father, replied.

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