When the Houston Texans announced in May they would tap free safety Lonnie Ballentine as the very last player selected for the 2014 NFL draft -- AKA "Mr. Irrevelant" -- he might as well have shouted: "I'm going to Newport Beach."
Because for the 39th time, the community is celebrating, toasting and roasting the last pick for professional play. Ballentine was a good sport as he was heaped with gifts, both of the fun and white elephant variety, at a barbecue on the Newport Dunes Wednesday night.
Check out Ballentine's week-long schedule, which includes receiving the "Lowsman Trophy," here. One of our favorite activities had him dragging the infield during the third inning.
Because as as Mel Fitch of the foundation said: Throwing the first pitch would have made him too relevant.
- Photos by Patch Editor Penny Arévalo
Here's more information about the week:
Ballentine will receive the "Lowsman Trophy," presented annually to the final pick of the NFL draft, at a roast in Newport Beach tonight.
Ballentine is set to be roasted by former USC and Los Angeles Rams coach John Robinson, former UCLA coach Terry Donahue, Pro Football Hall of Fame member Mike Haynes, College Football Hall of Fame member Sam Cunningham, famed sports agent Leigh Steinberg and former USC men's basketball coach Stan Morrison.
The trophy is a parody of the Heisman Trophy and depicts a player fumbling a football. Proceeds from the roast benefit Special Olympics Southern California.
Ballentine, a safety from The University of Memphis, was chosen by the Houston Texans with the 256th and final selection in the May draft.
Paul Salata, a former receiver for USC and two NFL teams, said he founded Irrelevant Week in 1976 "to drive home an important message -- that it's not a negative to be picked last in the NFL draft; rather, it's an honor to be drafted at all."
"It's a lesson that resonates not only with NFL players and fans, but with people everywhere," Salata said.
Irrelevant Week is the cornerstone of The Foundation for the Undefeated, a recently formed national nonprofit organization based in Newport Beach that champions stories of perseverance in sports.
City News Service contributed to this report.