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Column: Virgen’s View: Chad Kelly, a unique Mr. Irrelevant

Denver Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly, left, who is Mr. Irrelevant XLII, poses with Irrelevant Week founder Paul Salata and the Lowsman Trophy at Balboa Bay Resort on Saturday
(Drew A. Kelley / Daily Pilot)

With an “Irrelevant Weekend” in front of him, it could have been seen as a perfect opportunity for Chad Kelly to improve his image from what he called “adversity,” that he experienced during college.

The message of celebrating the underdog and someone for no reason at all is a positive one and it just might detract from the off-the-field trouble that plagued Kelly.

Yet, here in Newport Beach, Kelly had decided he just wanted to be himself, calm and cool, have some fun, and have his brother, Casey, along for the ride. Kelly is a unique underdog, to be sure, but one that seems to be now on the right path toward achieving success in the NFL.

Kelly’s face lit up when he arrived at John Wayne Airport on Thursday night as fans were there to welcome him as Mr. Irrelevant XLII. He was the final pick, No. 253, in the NFL Draft, a quarterback taken by the Denver Broncos. But he became No. 1 in the hearts of those who love the annual tradition in Newport Beach.

Kelly loved it all too. He packed in plenty of activities in a matter of three days: a visit to Grit Cycle in Costa Mesa, interviews at the ESPN Los Angeles and NFL Network (Culver City) studios and the annual Lowsman Trophy All-Star Banquet at Balboa Bay Resort on Friday. He spent time with underprivileged families as part of Serving People In Need at 30th Street on the peninsula on Saturday morning. He also received gifts at a meet-and-greet at A&O Kitchen and Bar at Balboa Bay Resort, where Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon gave him a “key to the city.” Kelly took a ride on a Duffy boat and tasted some of Newport Beach restaurants to end his day.

A stop at Mariners Church was on the schedule Sunday morning before leaving on his flight back to Denver.

“The biggest thing is you just come here to have fun, and learn something,” said Kelly, 23, who began his college career at Clemson, where he ran into controversy and ended up in junior college before moving on to Mississippi, where he was a star. “Everyone in here [at Balboa Bay Resort for the Lowsman Trophy banquet] is a successful person in their own way and if you can learn from them, someone who works at a bank or someone who works at a school, whatever you can take away is going to be knowledge. And that becomes power down the road.”

Kelly did his best to have fun while in Newport Beach, yet he was also careful. He had injured his knee in November and he suffered a right wrist injury on his pro day. That would be the hand he throws with.

However, Kelly managed to have a great time. His brother did, too.

Casey Kelly, 16, who at 6 feet 3 is about an inch taller than his older brother, tried surfing on Saturday morning. Casey Kelly enjoyed watching his brother receive honors and advice on Saturday night. Their uncle, the Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, sent a video message wishing Mr. Irrelevant the best in the NFL.

“It was kind of awesome,” Casey Kelly said of the Lowsman Trophy banquet. “It was surreal. He accomplished his dream of becoming an NFL player and now he gets the love too of all these people around him and cheering him along the way.”

You could tell the brothers, from Buffalo, N.Y., genuinely love each other. Chad Kelly could have picked anyone to join him for his Mr. Irrelevant experience in Newport Beach. He chose his brother.

“Me and Chad’s relationship is one of a kind. It’s very close,” Casey Kelly said. “We talk to each other every day, face time at least five times a day. We text the whole day. It’s just awesome having a brother so close like that. And you get to talk to him about everything and anything. It’s just great.”

Chad Kelly said he wanted his brother with him because he is his right-hand man and his best friend. Chad Kelly knows family is important, especially during this time as he prepares for an NFL career.

He is a unique Mr. Irrelevant, and that’s saying a lot. Looking at the history of Mr. Irrelevants, safe to say this one will definitely be remembered.

steven.virgen@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveVirgen


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