Tight end Gerald Christian and Mr. Irrelevant founder Paul Salata (passenger seat) at the Balboa Island Parade in June
Gerald Christian went to California for the first time in his life last month. The weather was perfect, the sea bass were biting and he topped the weekend off by riding in the Balboa Island Parade.
And believe it or not, that was just the precursor.
The rookie tight end from Louisville was one pick away from joining hundreds of other former college standouts as an undrafted free agent in early May. Instead, the Cardinals chose him with the final selection of the draft – a pick known as "Mr. Irrelevant" but in reality is anything but.
Christian sets forth on his six-day trip back to Newport Beach on Tuesday for "Irrelevant Week," an event which was founded by former player Paul Salata in 1976 and has steadily gained in stature. Christian's vacation will include a trip to Disneyland, a ride in a blimp, a sailing lesson and a banquet in his honor, among other activities.
"It's crazy that the guy who was the very last pick gets all of that," Christian said. "Just from that (initial) little piece, I can't imagine the type of fun I'm going to have when I go out there for a whole week."
Christian is the Cardinals' second Mr. Irrelevant, joining tight end Tevita Ofanhengaue, who had his moment of fame in 2001. Current Cardinals quarterback Chandler Harnish also has the Mr. Irrelevant claim as the final pick of the 2012 draft to the Colts.
During his time in California, Christian will kick up his feet and enjoy the festivities, but when it's over, he will be just a couple weeks away from the start of an ever-important training camp. Seventh-round picks are not usually locks to make a roster, and Christian must show he deserves one of the elusive 53 spots with the Cardinals.
Judging by the roster construction, he will certainly have a chance. Tight end John Carlson's unexpected retirement earlier this offseason left only Darren Fells and Troy Niklas as the holdovers from last year, and if the Cardinals keep four players in the position group Christian has a shot to be one of them.
"I've looked at the depth chart and I see the tight ends that we have, and I try to depict my role," Christian said. "At the end of the day, what my talents are, I just try to make them valuable to the team, do what I can do. I'm a football player and I want to play. I want to be a starter. I've worked my butt off to be that. I set my goals high, so if I do fall short it's something that I can still be happy about."
One of Christian's biggest assets is his positional flexibility. At 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, he's the shortest and lightest tight end on the roster, but also the group's Swiss Army Knife. Coach Bruce Arians likes players who can fill multiple roles, and Christian can do that.
"I'll never be 6-7, 270, but where I think it helps me is that I am versatile," Christian said. "I have experience playing in the backfield, I've been in-line, I've been spread out. I have experience through college doing that for a team, and I think that makes me more valuable and helps my role to contribute to the team, being able to do different things."
And thanks to Mr. Irrelevant, his off-field repertoire is about to grow as well.
"They're teaching me how to surf, and they're teaching me how to do sailing – I'm actually going to be pulling the ropes out there," Christian said. "(The first trip) was perfect. I'm looking forward to going back."
Patriotic images from the Cardinals on the birthday of the United States