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Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson gets star treatment from NFL Network

Caleb Wilson, the 254th overall selection and final pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was taken by the Arizona Cardinals as a tight end.

Before deciding to enter the draft, Wilson had a set of criteria that he had to complete. Having a degree in hand was on the list, and Wilson earned his in sociology.

Prior to winding up at UCLA, however, Wilson had shown up at USC as a preferred walk-on. At USC, he had majored in communications, conjuring up visions of one day working in broadcasting.

So when Wilson arrived on set for his Mr. Irrelevant segment at NFL Network in Culver City on Tuesday, it was like a dream come true. Wilson answered questions in a sit-down interview with “NFL Total Access” host Lindsay Rhodes.

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“I thought about it after playing,” Wilson said, adding that he began to think about a career in broadcasting in high school. “Hopefully, I play for a long time, but after that, I mean, to be able to work for a place like NFL Network, that would be neat.

“I thought about it for a while. I was a communications major at USC. That was what I was trying to do there, and then I ended up going sociology at UCLA, but that is something that I’ve wanted to do.”

Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson, the last player chosen in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, is in
Caleb Wilson, aka Mr. Irrelevant, is interviewed by NFL Total Access host Lindsay Rhodes at NFL Network in Culver City on Tuesday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Wilson looked calm under pressure, even as Rhodes tried to get information about the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive scheme for the upcoming season. He responded by saying that he couldn’t give away the keys to the castle, demonstrating that he has been well-schooled in dealing with the media.

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The former UCLA tight end gave credit to his UCLA coaches — Chip Kelly and Jim Mora — and Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury for coaching him up for interviews.

“They have definitely taught us how to be professional with the media and be smart as far as protecting your team, protecting yourself and your brand,” Wilson said. “I have great parents. My dad, he’s been fortunate enough to have been in the business for a long time, so he’s kind of helped me monitor what I say, how I can be smart, and how I can be presentable.”

Family comes first for Wilson, and on that front, he was grateful for the entire Irrelevant Week experience. His trip to NFL Network was no different, as his family received a backstage tour and had the opportunity to take pictures on set.

Prior to the interview, the Wilson family watched the entire second half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal match between the United States and England in the Green Room.

Wilson’s sister, Colby, plays center back for the women’s soccer team at Eastern Washington University. At one point, their mom, Tina, remarked that Colby would one day play for the national team and that Caleb has always thought of her as the better athlete between the two of them.

Colby shook her head sheepishly at those comments, but her brother reaffirmed his belief in his sister’s abilities on the pitch at the end of the studio tour.

“I believe it,” Wilson said. “I’ll be cheering for her every step of the way.”

Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson, the last player chosen in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, shoes
Caleb Wilson shows off his Mr. Irrelevant No. 254 jersey before being interviewed at NFL Network in Culver City on Tuesday. The Arizona Cardinals made Wilson the dead-last pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
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In seeing some of the illustrations and jerseys displayed throughout the studio, Wilson said he felt privileged to share a stage with stars of the game. He named Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce from his own position, Arizona Cardinals cornerback and teammate Patrick Peterson, and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

“I know they’ve been in a situation like this,” Wilson said. “I know they’ve probably sat in the same chair that I just sat in. Just to be able to even sit in that room and have a moment where I’m recognized was awesome.”

Irrelevant Week CEO Melanie Salata Fitch has seen the NFL embrace the Mr. Irrelevant tradition, which is now in its 44th year. The NFL Network even got in on the act of gift-giving, sending Wilson home with a travel backpack.

“We’re trying to celebrate Mr. Irrelevant as if he’s like the first pick,” Salata Fitch said. “[Arizona Cardinals quarterback] Kyler Murray would be on NFL Network, or he would be in FOX Studios, so it’s really nice that NFL Network treats him like he’s the first selection.

“They had it all set up. He gets to go in the Green Room. I think that Caleb felt very special, too. He was the focus of NFL Network today.”

Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson, the last player chosen in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, in th
Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson gets the Prime Time treatment on a set dedicated to Deion Sanders at NFL Network in Culver City on Tuesday. Wilson was the 254th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, while Sanders went No. 5 overall in 1989.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

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andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner


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