Newport Beach, was honored by the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based alumni
group for his accomplishments on and off the field -- most notably his
time-honored Irrelevant Week, which has toasted and roasted the last
player chosen in the annual NFL Draft for nearly a quarter-century.
With Salata were his wife, Beverly, children Bradley and Melanie and
their families, four brothers and their wives, and a host of others.
Among them were longtime pals of Salata, including George Yardley,
Newport Beach's basketball Hall of Famer, Olympic diving legend Sammy Lee
and former Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register sportswriter John
"There may be somebody more deserving than I," said Salata, "but none
will appreciate this more than I do."
Salata, in a style unlike his usual happy banter, said, "The game is more
important than teams or individuals. It's the industry that counts, as
opposed to agents and egos."
Also singled out by the NFL Alumni for "Leather Helmet" honors were the
well-traveled Len Dawson, most commonly remembered for his endeavors as a
quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, and one of the finest to ever
play the game as a Los Angeles Ram, David "Deacon" Jones.
The trio joins circles that defy the imagination in the world of
Among this group honored over the past 23 years are Red Grange, George
Halas, Bronko Nagurski, Johnny Unitas, Ollie Matson, Jim Brown, Bart
Starr, Vince Lombardi ... and, well, the list goes on and on, and
continues this year with Dawson, Jones and Paul Salata.
A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Orange County Sports
Hall of Fame, as well as a member of the Daily Pilot's Sports Hall of
Fame, this latest conquest is but another stepping stone for the
indefatigable Salata, despite his "retired" status.
The die was cast in the early 1940s at Franklin High in Los Angeles,
where he was student body president and Athlete of the Year as a senior.
Salata was a receiver for the USC Trojans, with two Rose Bowl
appearances. His list of professional credits include stints with the San