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Sent on Mormon-News: 27Jun01

By Kent Larsen

Mr. Irrelevant Starts His Reign

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- Irrelevant is as irrelevant does. And if Tevita Ofahengaue has anything to say about it, he'll redefine irrelevant soon enough. Selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the last player in the final round of the recent NFL draft, Ofahengaue earned the somewhat dubious distinction of becoming the latest in a long line of "Mr. Irrelevants." As Mr. Irrelevant XXVI, Ofahengaue is the recipient of gifts, a banquet in his "honor," and the not-so-coveted "Lowsman Trophy," an award at the opposite end of the college football spectrum from its more famous and prestigious counterpart, the Heisman Trophy.

While being named Mr. Irrelevant is a tongue-in-cheek prediction of a player's lack of probable success in reaching the NFL, don't count Ofahengaue out just yet. As a three-year starter at Brigham Young University, Ofahengaue was anything but irrelevant. The 6-foot-2, 254-pound tight end walked on to the team in 1997 and earned a scholarship. A consistent performer on offense, Ofahengaue had at least one reception in all 12 games last season. His 22 catches for 305 yards was good enough to earn him second-team All-Mountain West Conference laurels. Heady stuff for a young man who had given up on football and dropped out of sports right after high school to take care of his young family. Married at age 16 while still in high school, Ofahengaue took a job as a baggage handler at the Dallas International airport after finishing his high school football career.

Four years later, his brother, Kelepi, and friend, Itula Mili, now playing for the Seattle Seahawks, convinced him to try out for the football team at BYU. Surprisingly, upon arrival at BYU, Ofahengaue found that he wasn't the only football player who was "married with children. "Half the team was already married," said Ofahengaue. After his successful stint at BYU, Ofahengaue had hopes of playing in the NFL. However, on draft day, as the names were called with no one saying "Ofahengaue," a disappointed Tevita eventually gave up and turned off the TV. It was only moments later that the Cardinals called Ofahengaue on phone to tell him that he had been selected as the last pick of the draft, thereby ensconcing Ofahengaue as the newest Mr. Irrelevant. Given the long odds in his career and his personal life that he's already beaten, Ofahengaue is convinced he can make the cut and become a valuable addition to the Cardinal team, at any position they need him to play.

A dedicated family man, Ofahengaue traveled to Newport Beach for the Mr. Irrelevant celebration with his wife, Carey, sons Tre, 9, and Moana, 7, daughters Teilissa, 3, and Teisa, 1, and about 55 additional family members. Even if Ofahengaue never plays a down of professional football, he's already a superstar to his children. Not only did they get to travel with dad to California, but part of the Mr. Irrelevant festivities included a free trip to the newly opened Disney's California Adventure. And in the eyes of a child, that's hardly irrelevant.


Irrelevant Week: Ofahengaue playing his cards
Los Angeles Times 20Jun01 S2
By Richard Dunn
Mr. Irrelevant XXVI will play anywhere to earn spot on Phoenix roster.

Irrelevant Week: Mr. Irrelevant XXVI is showered at Arrival Party
Los Angeles Times 19Jun01 S2
By Richard Dunn
With record-setting entourage, Ofahengaue is the man of the week.

Irelevant Week: It starts tonight
Los Angeles Times 18Jun01 S2
By Barry Faulkner
BYU tight end Tevita Ofahengaue drafted by Arizona to become Mr. Irrelevant XXVI.

See also:

'Mr. Irrelevant' Strives to be Anything But


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