Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy appreciative of Newport Beach welcome at Lowsman Banquet
An energy of anticipation and amusement took over the Cannery Seafood of the Pacific in Newport Beach Monday night, so much so that those who arrived fashionably late were transported to the place to be, the Lowsman Banquet, the traditional kick-off event for Irrelevant Week.
Some 90 minutes after the festivities had gotten underway, Brock Purdy, the man of the hour and the 47th member of the Mr. Irrelevant fraternity, arrived by boat off the Lido Peninsula, immediately greeted by showgirls who escorted him into a house full of his wildest fans.
The night had already begun with drinks and table games on the upper level, and the fun continued with Purdy walking into the restaurant to the soundtrack of “Viva Las Vegas.”
By some measure of the Irrelevant Week tradition of roasting and toasting Newport Beach’s new favorite sons, Purdy may have had it easy. Some took it upon themselves to crack jokes at others in the ceremony.
After Fire Chief Jeff Boyles presented Purdy with a one-of-a-kind surfboard with the inscription, “Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, No. 262,” it was Police Chief Jon Lewis’ turn to come to the microphone.
His initial words were inaudible, before he adjusted the microphone and diffused the situation by saying, “I’m a little bit taller than the fire chief,” drawing laughs that would continue to fill the dining room and the outdoor deck throughout the ceremony.
Lewis next presented a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to Purdy, before abruptly informing him that it had expired one day prior.
Mayor Kevin Muldoon also took a turn, presenting the latest Mr. Irrelevant with a key to the city. Muldoon cautioned that if the key opened anything in the city, he should notify city officials immediately. It was seen going home with a family member, so if the city experiences a break in, Purdy may have some questions to answer.
“It’s so great to see that Mr. Irrelevant is going to be participating in junior [life]guards and a pub crawl,” Muldoon said, adding that Irrelevant Week is a Newport Beach tradition and an honor for the community. “He’s really going to be seeing what Newport Beach is about. He’s not just flying in for a night. He’s going to live a Newport Beach experience, and I think it’s good for us to be reminded of how great our community is and for the rest of the country to see how unique Newport Beach is.”
A veritable trove of sports treasures was put up for a silent auction to begin the evening. It included signed memorabilia by Nolan Ryan, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, a Tiger Woods iconic fist pump framed photo, and a portrait of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson celebrating after winning the 2000 NBA Finals (signed by all three).
There was also a Rams helmet signed by various members of the most recent Super Bowl championship team, as well as several signed jerseys with pictures of the signing provided for authentication. Those jerseys included LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
A San Francisco 49ers helmet, signed by Pro Football Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, was the lone live auction item of the night. It fetched a whopping $7,500 for the winning bid.
Melanie Salata Fitch, chief executive of Irrelevant Week, said she expected the event to raise more than $50,000 to be donated to the ALS Assn. and the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation.
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who helped the Cyclones win the Festival Bowl as a junior, became the 47th Mr. Irrelevant on Saturday. Purdy was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 262nd pick in the NFL Draft.
Purdy, a quarterback from Iowa State, was the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by the 49ers, a former team of the late Paul Salata, the founder of Irrelevant Week. Emcee John Ireland — a Corona del Mar graduate and the radio play-by-play voice of the Los Angeles Lakers — took a moment to recognize Salata during the evening, calling attention to his lively personality and his desire to do something nice for somebody for no reason.
The tradition of roasting and toasting was largely left up to some former NFL players, concluding with four-time Super Bowl champion Jesse Sapolu, who won all his titles with the 49ers.
“Just to be able to see the caliber of these guys and the résumés and their careers and what they’ve done — honestly [to] listen to the advice they were giving, for me, very thankful for that,” Purdy said. “It was just awesome overall because they could still joke around and have fun with the night.
“It meant a lot, from my perspective, seeing that these guys can be real and authentic and joke around but also give advice.”
The venue at large wanted a minute with Purdy. When Braeden Boyles, the son of the fire chief and a former standout quarterback at Edison, got his chance to seek the advice of a signal-caller who had caught the eye of an NFL team, his query instead was, “Where’s the mullet?”
“I respected him so much after that question, because he gets it,” Purdy said of the interaction. “I got a lot of heat for growing out the mullet, but a lot of people in Iowa liked it, too, and honestly, I thought it fit the vibe of my senior year, going into my last season at Iowa State and growing out the mullet for my country folks.”
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