Napoleon Kaufman
No. 26
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1973-06-07) June 7, 1973 (age 50)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High school:Lompoc (Lompoc, California)
NFL Draft:1995 / Round: 1 / Pick: 18
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:4,792
Player stats at · PFR

Napoleon "Nip" Kaufman (born June 7, 1973) is an American former professional football player who played his entire career as a running back for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Washington Huskies, earning All-American honors twice. After his playing career, he became an ordained minister and head football coach at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California.

Early life

Kaufman was born in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Lompoc, California, 55 miles west-northwest of Santa Barbara. At Lompoc High School he was one of the greatest high school running backs in California prep history.

As a 135-pound sophomore in 1988, he rushed for 1,008 yards in leading Lompoc to the Southern Section divisional semifinals. As a junior in 1989, he had an even better season. Kaufman was named to the CIF All-State First Team,[1] compiling 2,954 all-purpose yards and 39 touchdowns, averaging a remarkable 70 yards on kickoff returns. As a senior in 1990, at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, with 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash, he was named the Cal Hi Sports California High School Football Player of the Year. Despite injuries, Kaufman rushed for 1,960 yards and 34 touchdowns, leading his team to a 13-1 record and a CIF championship[2] at then-Mustang Stadium.[3] He was also named to the USA Today and Parade Magazine first-team All-American lists on top of being named Northern League MVP and Santa Barbara County MVP.[4] In his high school career, he rushed for 5,151 yards and 86 TDs. Kaufman chose the University of Washington over USC, Colorado, and Arizona.

Kaufman was also an exceptional track athlete. As a junior, Kaufman's personal best in the 100 meters was 10.39 seconds, and he was the CIF California State Champion in both the 100 (10.57) and 200 meters (21.15).[5] He also was an accomplished long jumper with a personal best of over 24 feet.

College career

In 1991, as a true freshman at Washington, Kaufman returned kicks for the Huskies during the year the team won the national championship. Among his notable collegiate performances was the 1994 "Whammy In Miami" game between the Huskies and the University of Miami at the Orange Bowl, where the Huskies ended Miami's 58-game home winning streak, which dated back to 1985. Kaufman was Washington's all-time leader in rushing yards for 23 years (4,106)[6] and 200-yard games (4), third in rushing touchdowns (34), and tied with Chris Polk for most rushes for 50+ yards (6). In a game against UCLA in 1994 Kaufman set the school's record for longest non-scoring rush with 79 yards.[7] Along with Polk and Myles Gaskin, he is one of only three Washington running backs to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons (1992-94: 1,045, 1,299, and 1,390).

He was named to the All-Pac-10 team in 1992, 1993, and 1994. In 1994, he was a second-team All-American, finished ninth in Heisman Trophy voting (receiving three first-place ballots),[8] and is a member of the University of Washington Hall of Fame.

As of 2022, Kaufman still held UW's career all-purpose yardage record, amassing 5,832 total yards.[9]

Professional career

Kaufman was selected with the 18th pick in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders,[10] where he remained for the entirety of his 6-year NFL career, amassing 4,792 yards rushing[11] on 4.90 yards per carry. Kaufman scored a touchdown in his first NFL game against the San Diego Chargers. Kaufman rushed for 490 yards as a rookie backing up Harvey Williams. As the Raiders' primary running back in 1997 and 1998, he rushed for 1,294 and 921 yards, respectively, and had 65 total receptions during those two seasons. Kaufman split playing time with Tyrone Wheatley in the latter part of his career.

On October 19, 1997, in Week 8 of the 1997 season, Kaufman rushed for 227 yards, leading the Raiders to an upset of the undefeated Denver Broncos (the eventual Super Bowl champions that year) and setting the franchise mark for rushing yards in a single game. Kaufman broke the record of 221, set by Bo Jackson in his famous Monday Night Football performance against the Seattle Seahawks on November 30, 1987. Kaufman's record stood for 25 years, until broken by the Raiders' Josh Jacobs on November 27, 2022.[12]

During the latter part of his playing career, Kaufman was the Raiders' chaplain, and baptized several teammates in the whirlpool at the team's practice facility.[13] He retired abruptly at the end of the 2000 NFL season[11] to pursue a career as a Christian minister.[14] Today he is the senior pastor at The Well Christian Community Church in Livermore, California, a church he founded with about 15 families in 2003; as of 2018 the church has over 1,000 regular worshipers. His wife also serves as a pastor, two other former Raiders serve in leadership roles, and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson is a member.[13] He has three sons and one daughter and has been married since September 1996. He also coached in the Pleasanton Junior Football League where his teams went undefeated four years in a row. As of December 2013, Kaufman is the head football coach at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland where all three of his sons have played. Kaufman's Bishop O'Dowd team won the CIF-State Division 5-AA Championship in December 2016. He also returned as the Raiders team chaplain in 2012 and served in that role until the team relocated to Las Vegas in 2020.

NFL career statistics

Year Team GP Att Yards Avg Lng TD FD Fum Lost
1995 OAK 16 108 490 4.5 28 1 28 0 0
1996 OAK 16 150 874 5.8 77 1 31 3 3
1997 OAK 16 272 1,294 4.8 83 6 54 6 4
1998 OAK 13 217 921 4.2 80 2 37 1 0
1999 OAK 16 138 714 5.2 75 2 32 1 1
2000 OAK 14 93 499 5.4 60 0 21 1 1
Career 91 978 4,792 4.9 83 12 203 12 9

See also


  1. ^ Ruthemeyer, Dan (December 27, 1990). "Kaufman scores award". San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune. pp. B-1.
  2. ^ Neumann, Thomas (December 23, 2015). "Where are they now? Oakland Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman". ESPN.
  3. ^ Bailey, Joe (May 17, 2019). "From the Vault: Recounting Napoleon Kaufman's days in Lompoc". Lompoc Record.
  4. ^ "Kaufman named CIF's top offensive player". San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune. December 31, 1990. pp. B1.
  5. ^ White, Lonnie (November 1, 1990). "Kaufman Is the Talk of Lompoc". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Thad Novak (March 30, 2011). "LaMichael James and the Top 25 RBs in Pac-10 History". Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  7. ^ 2012 Washington Football Information Guide & Reference Book.
  8. ^ "Heisman Voting". Buffalo News. December 11, 1994.
  9. ^ 2022 University of Washington Football Media Guide. University of Washington Athletics. 2022. p. 115.
  10. ^ "1995 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved 2023-03-31.
  11. ^ a b Mike Florio (April 13, 2012). "Napoleon Kaufman returns to Raiders, as team chaplain". NBC Sports. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Alvarado, Jairo (November 28, 2022). "Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs Breaks Franchise Records". Sports Illustrated.
  13. ^ a b Neumann, Thomas (December 23, 2015). "Where are they now? Oakland Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman". Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  14. ^ O'Neil, Danny (July 16, 2011). "Napoleon Kaufman finds faith after football". Seattle Times.