Virgen's View: Harnish takes on another test

Chandler Harnish said there was a time in his life when he contemplated quitting football.

Harnish is Mr. Irrelevant XXXVII, but this is a relevant story.

Before his junior season at Northern Illinois University, Harnish thought he had enough of football. A knee injury took a toll on his body and his mind.

However, Harnish said support from family and friends helped him to continue to play the game.

Harnish, a quarterback, went on to become one of the best players in school history. And perhaps more importantly he was drafted into the NFL.

He has another opportunity in front of him. But, yes, it's another challenge.

Harnish has crafted a great story up until now. But now he's up against great odds. The Colts already have their franchise quarterback. They took him No. 1: Andrew Luck.

Harnish was picked dead last.

On Tuesday night, he received some advice from former NFL players and took in some roasting too. Harnish remained confident.

Irrelevant Week was a bit short this year because the Colts only allowed a small amount of time to devote to Newport Beach and Orange County.

Harnish still received a great lesson.

"The importance that this irrelevant title carries," Harnish said of what he learned. "Really at the end of the day, it's about giving back to kids and the local communities. I think it's also an idea that even though you're an underdog you still have an unbelievable chance and if you believe in yourself and have confidence you can do it. You know I'm a guy who's in an unbelievably I don't want to say a tough position but a huge challenge against the No. 1 draft pick. People are saying it's going to take a miracle. But I don't think that.

I think your opportunity is right there and I'm going to get as many opportunities that I can handle coming up in the next few months."

There were plenty of laughs and good times at the All-Star Lowsman Banquet on Tuesday at the Newport Beach Marriott, but the overall support for Harnish was genuine.

Paul Salata's concept for celebrating Mr. Irrelevant is doing something good for someone for no reason. What a concept.

Harnish gets picked last in the draft and it's as if he wins the lottery. All because Salata loves to honor the underdog.

And, Salata is fond of this certain underdog. He said he's not sure how he is as a player, but because of his personality and confidence Salata believes Harnish will find success.

"He's confident," Salata said Tuesday night. "He has a good background. He's going to be fine."

Throughout my interviews with Harnish I would say his demeanor and rhythm of speech reminds me a lot of Kurt Warner.

I'm sure Harnish would love to play like Warner too.

Much of the concept of Irrelevant Week is also for charity. This year, Irrelevant Week got a special donation.

According to Julie Buehler, who has been a freelance reporter for the Daily Pilot and works for the Colts, team owner Jim Irsay offered $10,000 for charity.

John Robinson was very entertaining and funny as the emcee of the All-Star Lowsman Banquet. He filled in for usual emcee John Ireland, who could not make the event because he had already scheduled a family trip.

Among Robinson's great jokes was a story he told about seeing a Rams fan at the banquet. He said the fan told him that Robinson reminded him of Billy Graham, the late evangelist.

The fan said, Robinson and Graham had the ability to fill then-Anaheim Stadium and it wouldn't be too long before they had all the people saying, "Jesus Christ!"

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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