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A salute for Salata

April 08, 2000

Roger Carlson

LA JOLLA -- Newport Beach's Paul Salata, who has endeared himself to the

community in so many relevant ways, found himself at another plateau

Friday night when he was given a Lifetime Achievement award.

The distinguished award came from the NFL Alumni Association during its

"Evening with the Legends Dinner" at the Torrey Pines Hilton.

The 73-year-old Salata, founder of the infamous Irrelevant Week in

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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

Hall.

"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

professional football.

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

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