The identity of the Irrelevant Week honoree will become known Saturday while plans for the celebration honoring the last pick in the NFL draft are uncertain.
The annual fundraiser for Orange County charities like Serving People in Need, or SPIN, was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with coronavirus cases dropping along with the rise of vaccinations, Irrelevant Week organizers say there will be an event this year. The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the last pick.
“They’re game to work with us,” Irrelevant Week CEO Melanie Fitch of the Buccaneers.
It’s possible that last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder, may be looped into the fun, Fitch told City News Service by phone from the annual NFL draft in Cleveland.
“We didn’t have one last year because we couldn’t bring him out of New York or go to New York,” Fitch said. “We’re looking forward to this year being able to celebrate Mr. Irrelevant.”
Fitch noted how much Crowder embraced his title, which has traditionally been a lighthearted jab at the last pick of the draft. The linebacker from Georgia made the team and was a notable contributor, Fitch said.
“He’s the first Mr. Irrelevant to score a defensive touchdown,” Fitch said.
The last picks in the draft have a greater chance in recent years of making the team, Fitch said. That trend improved since 1994 when the draft was reduced from 12 round to seven, she added.
“With seven rounds you get more of the cream of the crop,” Fitch said.
Last year, the annual fundraiser did not rake in as much money as in past year, but benefited from having more volunteers, Fitch said.
“We didn’t raise as much money, but our volunteer base grew, so what we were able to do was we were able to help local charities and people in need,” Fitch said.
“Our major sponsors still came through, so we were able to give money to support SPIN and the Orange County Youth Sports Foundation.”
Much of the focus turned to “getting people into housing who lost their homes because of COVID and losing their job,” Fitch said.
One woman who rented space in a garage to store her belongings while the family lived out of a car eventually was able to get housing with the help of the organization, but when she returned for her property the owner had given it all away because he didn’t think the single mother would return for it, Fitch said.
“We got clothes for the kids, beds, everything,” Fitch said. “They had nothing other than what was in their car. We feel good about all the people we helped.”
The usual large banquet of 500 people is probably out of the question this year, Fitch said.
“We’ll need to regroup,” she said, adding it may become a barbecue picnic instead.
“I think we’ll still be able to celebrate Mr. Irrelevant, whether it’s taking him surfing or something.”
Usually the event is coordinated with the team because it depends on when the player is available during the summer of team-related activities, Fitch said. The week of events is usually held in June.
“We’re always flexible,” Fitch said. “Now we’re super flexible.”
Irrelevant Week this year “will be like the circus. We’ll be on the road, take it all out and let’s party. And the people who have been good supporters of Irrelevant Week, they’re ready to flood back in… People want to get out and have fun again, so hopefully we can provide that and celebrate Mr. Irrelevant again.”