Salata, 74, survived cancer surgery in February and is recovering
well. In fact, Salata is "thriving," and this morning at 7:30 he'll serve
as keynote speaker at the Radisson Hotel at the annual Commodores' Club
Athletic Awards Breakfast, a Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce event
honoring the top 30 athletes at Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high
"I still get treatments, but all my pipes have been reset, so my
body's performing normally," he said Tuesday. "I just need to gain back a
little strength and I'll be rolling."
The honorary mayor of Newport Beach and king of Irrelevant Week,
Salata is known around town as much for his gags and zany Irrelevant Week
antics as his philanthropic deeds and charitable ambitions.
Through Irrelevant Week, Salata discovered a way to put the underdog
on the map, celebrating the absolute dead last draft pick in the NFL each
year. The hokey, tongue-in-cheek affair might raise a few eyebrows for
newcomers -- especially during the roasting and toasting of Mr.
Irrelevant at the All-Star Sports Banquet -- but it has long been a
symbol of doing something nice for somebody for no reason.
A recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NFL Alumni,
Salata has helped bring significant recognition to Newport Beach through
the week-long revelry. The NFL grants him the privilege of announcing the
last pick each year.
Last summer, Sports Illustrated covered the 25th anniversary
Irrelevant Week, which was attended by numerous former Mr. Irrelevant
honorees, including NFL players Matt Elliott and Marty Moore.
When glancing at the football backgrounds of Elliott, a former
Michigan center who has played for the Washington Redskins and Carolina
Panthers, and Moore, who played in Super Bowl XXXI for the New England
Patriots, it begins to make Irrelevant Week sound (gasp!) not so
But what a beautiful thing that is, considering its founder, a former
Hollywood actor and professional football player who later made a bundle
as a sewer contractor, came from such a tough road.
At age 12, Salata's father, Chetko, a Yugoslavian immigrant, died