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They Call Me "Mister Irrelevant": Seven Irrelevants from Seven Decades

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They Call Me

"Mister Irrelevant"

Created by former NFL and Southern California receiver Paul Salata in 1976, the "Mister Irrelevant" award has become synonymous with the NFL Draft.

The actual trophy (also called The Lowsman), which depicts a football player fumbling a football, is given to the last player selected in that year's draft.

Aside from receiving the trophy, the last pick is also flown out to California, where he is invited to play in a golf tournament, attend a regatta, and finally be roasted by a panel who offer advice to the new draftee.

Most "Mister Irrelevants" are not expected to make their team's final roster, which is why the award is not always well received.

Although the award officially began in 1976, I pondered, "Whatever happened to the last picks in previous drafts?

Did they make the team they were drafted by? Were their careers cut short by war or the Great Depression? Or did they become one of the NFL greats, despite the "Mister Irrelevant" status?"

After going through the last 70 some-odd years of the NFL, I decided it would be best to select one player from each decade as I looked to track down what happened to "Mister Irrelevant."

 

2009: Ryan Barrow Succop

Kicker
College: University of South Carolina
Drafted with the last pick 256th by the Kansas City Chiefs

Succop earned the kicking spot with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 and tied a record for rookie kickers with an 86.2 percent field goal percentage. Succop was also the Chiefs leading scorer in 2009 and led that year's NFL rookie class in scoring.

He enters the 2010 season as the Chiefs primary kicker. It appears he'll have a pretty good career in the NFL.

 

1992: Eric Matthew Elliott (Matt Elliott)

Center/Guard
College: University of Michigan
Drafted with the last pick 336th by the Washington Redskins

Elliot not only made the Redskins roster in his rookie season. He played in 16 games.

The guard sustained a knee injury in 1993, which sidelined him for the entire season. Elliott was eventually cut by the team.

He came back to the NFL in 1995, when he signed with the Carolina Panthers. The Michigan alum played three seasons and started in 32 games for Carolina.

Elliott now resides in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and three children.

 

1981: Phil Nelson

Tight End
College: University of Delaware
Drafted with the last pick 332nd by the Oakland Raiders

Nelson didn't make it through training camp. After the Oakland Raiders cut him, no other team picked up the tight end. The Raiders felt his pass-catching ability and his inability to block defenders was not up to NFL standards.

Nelson currently lives in Maryland with his wife and sons.

 

1978: William Patrick Kenney (Bill Kenney)

Quarterback
College: University of Northern Colorado
Drafted with the last pick 333rd by the Miami Dolphins

Bill Kenney could be considered one of the best "Mister Irrelevants" in the award's 34-year history.

While officially the second-to-last pick in the 1978 draft, Bill earned the award after a back injury forced the last pick to miss camp.

Although he was cut after training camp by the Dolphins in 1978, Bill found a spot with the Chiefs two years later.

Upon receiving the award, Bill went on to a nine-year career in the NFL, playing eight seasons with the Chiefs and one with the Washington Redskins.

Kenney had a successful tenure as the Chiefs quarterback, and in 1983 he was selected to the Pro Bowl after leading the league in completions that year. 

Kenney is the only "Mister Irrelevant" ever to have made the Pro Bowl.

After he retired from the NFL, Mr. Kenney eventually became a Missouri State Senator and floor leader.

He retired from politics in 2003 and still lives with his family in Missouri.

 

1965: George Haffner

Quarterback
College: University of Notre Dame/McNeese State University
Drafted with the last pick 280th by the Baltimore Colts

After being drafted by the Baltimore Colts, Haffner was immediately sent to the Norfolk Neptunes of the Continental Football League, a then-minor league affiliate to the NFL.

Although his career would be cut short as a player, Haffner spent 31 years on various coaching staffs at Division I schools, including 22 years as an offensive coordinator under such renowned head coaches as Bobby Bowden, Johnny Majors, and Vince Dooley.

He won a national championship and three conference championships while at Georgia.

Haffner coached NCAA football for 40 years before retiring in 2006.

 

1951: Sisto Joseph Averno

Linebacker
College: Muhlenberg College
Drafted with the last pick 362nd by the Baltimore Colts

A member of the Muhlenberg College Athletic Hall of Fame, Sisto played five years in and around the NFL for various teams. Known as a tough linebacker who played through any injury, Sisto was quoted as saying, "One time, I separated my shoulder. I told the coach, Clem Crowe. He said, 'Block with the other one.' "

In his later years, Sisto suffered a stroke, had his knee and hip replaced, and requires a walker to get around. These conditions are thought to be linked to the injuries he suffered over the years.

Because of that, Averno became an advocate for better benefits to retired NFL players. Averno is still actively fighting for all former NFL players at the age of 85.

He currently resides in Pikesville, Maryland with his family.

 

1942: Stuart Lenox Clarkson  (seen above)

Linebacker
College: Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville)
Drafted with the last pick 200th by the Chicago Bears

Stuart "Stu" Clarkson spent seven years with the Chicago Bears before moving over as a player/coach to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. While with the Bears, Clarkson played in 72 games, recorded 10 interceptions and was a member of the 1946 World Champion team, where he received an equal player's share of $1,975.82 for his efforts.

Upon retiring from football, Clarkson served from 1943 to 1945 with the United States Army in England, France, and Germany. On June 6, 1944, Clarkson was part of the American forces landing at Utah Beach, Normandy, France.

Upon returning from the war, he took a position coaching for the Sugar Land High School football team in Texas. On October 26, 1957, while coaching during a game for Sugar Land, Clarkson suffered a heart attack and died on the side of the field. Sugar Land went on to beat Hitchcock High, 25-0.

Jackson was the father of American lawyer and documentary photographer Scott C. Clarkson.

 

Final Thoughts

Over the past 70 years, many "Mister Irrelevants" enjoyed both short-lived and long-lived NFL careers. These are just seven of the players who were shuffled in and out of the NFL (and some were even shuffled back in).

Every one of them has a story.

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