This is tragedy. Life taken way too soon. Great sports memories can
pump joy in our spirit, only trailing God and family on the grand
scheme of the pecking order. But death is reality, too, and we lost
another friend earlier this month when the inaugural Mr. Irrelevant,
Kelvin Kirk, died suddenly while playing pickup basketball. He was
Kirk, who played 78 games in the Canadian Football League and was
known as a speedy receiver for the Ottawa Rough Riders, paved the way
for Irrelevant Week in Newport Beach.
Kirk, a receiver out of Dayton, with the final pick (No. 487) in the
1976 NFL draft and IW founder Paul Salata was there with his big warm
hands to greet Kirk, put his arm around him and invite him to a
weeklong party, roast and celebration never seen before on earth.
After all, doing something nice for somebody for no reason has a good
underbelly for public relations, but Salata & Co. began raising money
for charity and Irrelevant Week became nationally famous with Salata
at the NFL draft podium to announce each year's final pick.
Kirk, who inaugurated Irrelevant Week by missing his plane, was
cut by the Steelers after training camp that summer, but ended up
with a fine CFL career, which included catching 103 passes for 2,942
yards and 16 touchdowns for Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and
Saskatchewan. He returned punts and kickoffs. His 22-game stretch
with Ottawa, from 1981 through '83, included an appearance in the
Rough Riders' 26-23 Grey Cup loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.
"Kelvin was just a delight to be around," fellow former Rough
Riders receiver Bruce Walker said in the Ottawa Citizen. "You
couldn't say a negative thing about him. I remember arriving at
practice every day and Kelvin would have drawn all sorts of
caricatures on the chalkboard. When (Coach) George Brancato would
come in, he would have to erase the pictures or draw the plays around
Added former Ottawa receiver Jeff Avery: "[Kirk] made us laugh,
drawing little scenes of what went on at practice. I'm just in shock
about this right now."
Kirk, who died July 2, worked in the Ottawa Citizen's advertising
department since 1989. He lived in the Aylmer section of Gatineau
with his son, Jonathan. Kirk is the fourth of the 28 Irrelevant Week
honorees to die.
"He was a great athlete, he had such great speed, and I remember
in the Grey Cup game [in 1981] when he broke open and [quarterback]
J.C. Watts overthrew him by maybe six inches," former Ottawa Rough
Riders general manager Don Holtby told the Citizen. "It would have
been a different game. It sits in my mind, I still remember it like
it was yesterday ... he was such a gentleman. He had such a great
personality. He was a good, good person, well-liked by everybody."