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Salata's wonderful life

Irrelevant Week

The man behind Irrelevant Week makes it fun, perhaps because of his intriguing past.

June 14, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com

When the Colts folded in 1951, he was re-drafted and picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Salata chose to play for the Calgary Stampeders in Canada.

"They offered me twice what the Steelers were offering," Salata said.

Salata said he just wanted to earn enough money to raise a family and buy a house. Sounds simple enough. But hardly anything is simple with Salata.

Sure he never had to worry with the money he earned.

"I was never in debt," Salata said with pride.

He played in Canada for five years. He later broke into real estate and other ventures.

As a pro, he worked. After the game ended, he worked.

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Where was the fun?

If you Google his name, look deep, and you can find it.

Salata dabbled in movies. He was an extra in a few. In one movie, he played the part of a thug who cuts Frank Sinatra's nose in the movie, "The Joker Is Wild."

And, of course, later in life came something irrelevant.

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HIS GREATEST MEMORY

In 1976, Salata created the Mr. Irrelevant concept. He said he had always joked about celebrating the guy on the bench, honoring the underdog. He said he also heard of some club in Laguna Beach that would throw a party for a random person.

"They did something nice for someone for no reason," Salata said, repeating the slogan of Irrelevant Week, which also continues to raise money for charity.

Kelvin Kirk, a wide receiver out of Dayton, became the first Mr. Irrelevant. Back then he was the 487th pick. This year's Mr. Irrelevant, Cheta Ozougwu of Rice, was No. 254.

There have been so many memories throughout the years. Salata throws out a number, "52,586 memories," he says in a silly tone.

"But if you ask me which one is my favorite, I know the one," he says smiling.

In 1983, John Tuggle, a Cal running back, became Mr. Irrelevant. Salata went out of his way to make some sort of connection with the Bears. It was not too long ago Cal was involved in "The Play."

Was there anyone irrelevant in that crazy ending to a game against Stanford when the band came on the field? Remember that trombone player who gets trampled over in the end zone by Kevin Moen?

Salata and his team found him. Coming off the plane in Orange County with Tuggle was Gary Tyrrell.

Salata said they asked Tyrrell to play the Stanford fight song on cue throughout the week. When they got off the plane, Tyrrell played. At the Lowsman Trophy Banquet, he played. But Salata thought it was a weak performance each time.

Salata was angry and said he reminded Tyrrell that he was supposed to play the Stanford fight song.

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