Irrelevant Week XXXV: Newport rocks to Toone

NEWPORT BEACH — Dressed in a royal blue collared shirt, navy blue slacks and brown shoes, a 25-year-old with long hair walked into the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa looking like a mixture of Tarzan and Carrot Top.

No, that's just Tim Toone, who does not look like your prototypical football player.

Toone was the guy with the blond dreadlocks escorted to the lobby and through a walkway formed, not by police officers, but by cheerleaders from Costa Mesa High. The girls cheered louder for Toone than the athletes from their own school.

That kind of fanfare in town is only reserved for the last player selected in the NFL Draft. Toone is that guy, Mr. Irrelevant.

Out-of-town guests at the hotel asked about all the commotion. Children held signs reading, "Toone Fan Club" and "Toone It Up." Two kids wore apparel from the Detroit Lions, the team that drafted Toone at No. 255, the dead-last pick.

Many people in Detroit do not even sport Lions gear outside of their homes. Detroit is 2-30 in the past two years.

Toone's 9-year-old brother had to think about why he is a Lions fan.

"Hmm," said Benjamin Toone, wearing a Lions hat and dressed as if he just returned from church.

The Toones are Mormon. Toone's mother, Leeann, was not sure what to expect at the All-Star Lowsman Banquet, which followed the arrival party. This was her first trip to Newport Beach.

Before Toone made it to the hotel, she stood next to Benjamin, thinking of what she and her five other family members were in store for in a couple of hours. The former Weber State receiver was going to be toasted and roasted at the banquet by former NFL greats, journeymen and coaches.

"It's going to be kind of hard for a mom to listen to that," Leeann said. "We're very conservative. We're LDS. I hope they don't get too [R-rated] up there. As long as [the jokes are] not bad."

The guys went easy on Toone's beliefs. The hair, that's a different story.

Mike Haynes, an NFL Hall of Famer, advised Toone to lop off the dreads. He might want to listen to Haynes, who starred at cornerback and knocked around wide receivers.

Toone said he plans to do whatever it takes to catch on with the Lions. He brought his agent, Brett Tessler, with him for the three-day Irrelevant Week festivities, which includes riding the Goodyear blimp, visiting Disneyland and sailing the Back Bay today.

Tessler said he's been representing players for 14 years, but they all sounded like a bunch of no names.

One of the more famous football agents, Leigh Steinberg, attended the banquet. Before Steinberg gave Toone a dubious contract of $42 million, he said he's never heard of Tessler. That's OK, because Toone's mom had no idea who Steinberg was when she met him at the VIP party.

Leeann also said she has never seen "Jerry Maguire," the movie that is loosely based on Steinberg's previous life.

Tessler is one of the few agents to appear during the 35 years of Irrelevant Week. He wasn't going to miss it for anything.

"As soon as Detroit called to let me know they were going to take him, I immediately knew what it meant," said Tessler, who flew into town Wednesday from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"He's a special guy. It's a real privilege to work with guys like him. He's a hard worker. He's high character."

Whether those qualities make a difference in how much of a cut Tessler will receive if Toone signs an NFL contract is not clear.

Tessler did not want divulge how much he's expecting for his services. In the meantime, Toone can give his agent some of the gifts he received at the hotel as compensation.

Toone got a stuffed football to play catch with and a sleeping bag to use in case if the Lions can't get the 5-foot-10, 188-pounder his own hotel bed during road games.

Someone gave Toone a radio, so if he is cut he can still follow Detroit's games.

"There's an iPad in there," said Toone before adding, "I'm not that into technology."

Toone is just obsessed about his dreadlocks.

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