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Catching Up with Kaufman



RB Napoleon Kaufman holds the Raiders record for most rushing yards in a game with 227.

Napoleon Kaufman was drafted by the Raiders out of the University of Washington in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. Kaufman went on to play for the Silver and Black from 1995-2000, totaling 978 carries for 4,792 yards and 12 touchdowns and catching 127 passes for 1,107 yards and five touchdowns. Kaufman holds the Raiders record for most rushing yards in a game with 227 against the Denver Broncos on October 19, 1997. What have you been up to since retiring from football?

Kaufman: What I've been doing really is just traveling all over the world, preaching the gospel. I'm a pastor now. That's basically what I've been doing. [My congregation] is right here in Dublin. What are some of the things you miss most about playing for the Raiders and playing football in general?

Kaufman: I think a lot of the camaraderie with the guys, just running the plays, being challenged physically like that, those are the things that I always miss about playing, just the competition. I love that stuff. Since you've stayed in the Bay Area, do people still recognize you and how does it feel to be in the Bay and still be close to your fans?

Kaufman: Oh yeah, that's one of the things that's just great too. I have so many people that remember me, even after all these years. People still come up to me all the time and say, 'hey, Pastor Kaufman, how you doing? We miss you out there on the field.' So that's one of the things that I really love about being here in the Bay is that I still have so many fans and not only here, but even when I go to Washington. It's amazing when I go to Washington how many people still recognize me. You recently reconnected with Raider Nation via Twitter (@napoleonkaufman); what's that been like for you?

Kaufman: Oh my goodness, that has been crazy. It's just been wild. I have people from all over the place just blowing it up. In less than two weeks, I have over 2,000 Twitter followers already. What are some of the things they're saying?

Kaufman: They're just saying, 'when are you going to come out of retirement?' Things like that. They're saying stuff like that – when are you going to come out of retirement, we miss you, where's your church. It's just great. Prior to being drafted, you played at the University of Washington and still hold the all-time record for total rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. What was your time like in Seattle?

Kaufman: I just loved Seattle. My wife is actually from Seattle, from Bellevue, so my in-laws still live up there also. I love Seattle, love the teams, and I watch not only the football team, but the other teams too - basketball team, both men's and women's, so I still keep abreast of what's going on with them. And then I have a lot of friends that still live up there so I'm very, very much…my heart is still in some ways in Seattle. I love the fans up there too. When you were drafted by the Raiders in 1995, what were your thoughts on wearing the Silver and Black?

Kaufman: That was a dream come true because my whole life I was a Raider fan. Ever since I was a little kid I followed the Raiders. To get drafted by them and to talk to Mr. Davis at the Combine and then he drafts me, it was just like, 'wow!' I couldn't believe it. So me being a Raider goes beyond just me playing the game and playing for that team. No matter what team I would have played for, I always would have been a Raiders fan. You set an all-time Raiders rushing record against Denver. What was that like?

Kaufman: That was just so cool because that was one of the things when I looked at the record book that was one of the things that I wanted to do was break Bo Jackson's record. I purposed in my heart that I wanted to do that and by the grace of God I was able to do that. I also wanted to break Marcus Allen's record but I just didn't hang around long enough to do it. But I definitely had that on my radar too. In that game, you went up against Terrell Davis. What was that like for you?

Kaufman: Well, that was cool because me and Terrell came in at the same time and we were friends. So Terrell knew me, I knew him, and it was just a lot of fun just because we had a relationship. It was exciting. It was exciting for both of us I think. Did you have any players you looked up to that inspired you to keep playing football or aspire to get to the NFL?

Kaufman: I think one of my favorite players of all time was Barry Sanders. He was a guy that really I looked at and said, 'okay, that's my guy.' I really enjoyed Barry Sanders. I loved Walter Payton's running style and then I loved Marcus Allen too. Marcus Allen was my biggest inspiration too, just the way in which he ran the ball and did his thing. And then being on the Raiders, I definitely followed him too. Message for the Raider Nation?

Kaufman: I'm believing like they are that this year we're going to start to turn things around. I believe that this year is a turnaround year for us. Something nice is going to come out of this season.

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