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Virtual NFL Draft to determine next Mr. Irrelevant

Paul Salata, left, with his daughter, Melanie Salata-Fitch, center, and her husband, Ed Fitch, prepare for the NFL Draft and Mr. Irrelevant.
Paul Salata, left, with his daughter, Melanie Salata-Fitch, center, and her husband, Ed Fitch, prepare for the NFL Draft and Mr. Irrelevant.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The National Football League can dominate headlines when the sports world is running on full cylinders.

With sports mired in a shutdown due to the coronavirus, fans will flock to 2020 NFL Draft coverage, looking to quench their thirst for a live event.

Instead of boats transporting players to a stage on the water in front of the fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the intended location of the draft, it is taking place virtually, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing first-round picks from New York on Thursday night.

The NFL Draft runs through Saturday on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network. The first-round selections were made on Thursday. The second and third rounds will take place Friday, and the draft will conclude with the final four rounds on Saturday.

There is a group that can hardly wait for the final pick of the draft. When it is made, the selected player will become the 45th member of the Mr. Irrelevant fraternity. Caleb Wilson, a tight end out of UCLA who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, became the 44th member last year.

While names like Joe Burrow (LSU), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Chase Young (Ohio State) generate buzz at the top of this year’s draft board, the folks at Irrelevant Week have long celebrated the last selection as the No. 1 pick in their hearts.

The idea of Mr. Irrelevant was brought forth by Paul Salata, who firmly believed that being picked, regardless of draft position, was a cause for celebration. Honoring the last choice in the draft is an underdog story everyone can get behind.

As the country is largely staying at home, that allowed for the 93-year-old Salata to be a part of the draft festivities once again.

Melanie Salata-Fitch, Paul’s daughter and the CEO of Irrelevant Week, was able to bring her father over to participate in the taping of a lead-in that was to be featured in the production of the NFL Draft.

“They did a live-stream with a camera that we had here,” Salata-Fitch said. “We set it up with lighting and the camera, but it went live to the production in New York, and then they’re going to edit it down.”

Of course, as long as no assumptions are made that the 255th and final pick of the draft will remain with the New York Giants, the timing of the taping is, in fact, irrelevant. Those bases were covered with a generic “Mr. Irrelevant 255” jersey that is white with black lettering.

There are also 58 draft prospects featured via remote video to show their reactions during the draft.

“Roger [Goodell] is just going to be in his home,” Salata-Fitch said. “There is a production team that will be getting these feeds. That’s how they will be trying to switch in a timely manner so that you can see the reaction of the player when his name is called.

“The team war rooms will have cameras set up, too. It’s going to be quite the production.”

If the coronavirus had not altered the original plans for the NFL Draft, Salata-Fitch would have been celebrating her 65th birthday in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Not to worry. She is perfectly happy at home with her husband, Ed. The couple has been married for 30 years, and Ed has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Mr. Irrelevant tradition throughout.

Salata-Fitch said that they are excited about the draft, and she joked that they might even watch it together in the same room.

Irrelevant Week has had to be flexible to accommodate the schedule of the team that makes the last selection in the NFL Draft. The annual celebration was scheduled for June 22-27, but as the new Mr. Irrelevant will hold that title for a year, the Irrelevant Week festivities can be moved as needed.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on families, and Irrelevant Week is once again working with Serving People In Need (SPIN) to help out.

“SPIN’s demand has gone up, so far, just as of [Tuesday], they’ve received 181% more calls than ever before, so they’ve got their hands full,” Salata-Fitch said. “We think it’s important to help these families, help the kids that are with these families, families that were in transitional housing, [that] have lost their jobs.

“We’re focused on making sure that the impact on these kids is as minimal as possible, so SPIN is our main charity that we’ll be helping this year.”

The last pick of the 2020 NFL Draft will determine who is to become the 45th Mr. Irrelevant.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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