This article may contain wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. Please remove or replace such wording and instead of making proclamations about a subject's importance, use facts and attribution to demonstrate that importance.(September 2010)
Kaufman was born in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Lompoc, California which is located 55 miles west-northwest of Santa Barbara. He was one of the greatest high school running backs in California prep history at Lompoc High School. 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 Southern Section All-CIF and All-State first team, compiling 2,954 all purpose yards and 39 touchdowns, averaging a remarkable 70 yards on kickoff returns. As a senior in 1990, at 5-9, 170, with 4.3 speed in 40 yards, he was named the Cal Hi Sports' California high school football player of the year. Despite injuries, Kaufman rushed for 1,960 yards and 28 touchdowns leading his team to a 13-1 record and a CIF championship. He was also named to the USA Today first team All-American team. 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 was the CIF California State Champion in both 100 (10.57) and 200 meters (21.15) He also was an accomplished long jumper with a personal best of over 24 feet.
In 1991, as a true freshman at Washington, Kaufman returned kicks for the Huskies during the year the team won the national championship. Kaufman was one of the most electrifying running backs in Pac-10 and college football history, with tremendous acceleration. His most notable performance was in 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 is still Washington's all-time leader in rushing yards (4,106), rushing attempts (735), 200 yard games (4), rushing touchdowns (34), tied with Hugh McElhenny for most rushing yards per game (89.3) and 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. He would have two more 50+ yards runs. He ran for 1,045 yards in his sophomore season in 1992, 1,299 yards in his junior season in 1993, and 1,390 yards as a senior in 1994. Along with Chris Polk, he is one of only two Washington running backs to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He was named to the All-Pac-10 team in 1992, 1993, and 1994. In 1994, he was a second team All-American. Halfway through his senior season, he had rushed for almost 1,000 yards and was a leading Heisman Trophy Candidate. A turf toe injury in the latter half of the season substantially affected his performance and caused him to miss one game and most of another.
After being drafted in the 1st round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, Kaufman also enjoyed a 6 year NFL career, amassing 4,792 yardsrushing with an impressive 4.90 yards per carry. Splitting time with Tyrone Wheatley in the latter part of his career, Kaufman was the Raiders' only primary back in 1997 and 1998, when he rushed for 1,294 and 921 yards in those two seasons along with 65 total receptions.
Kaufman retired abruptly at the end of the 2000 NFL season to pursue a career as a Christianminister. Today he is the senior pastor at The Well Christian Community Church in Dublin, California. He has three sons and has been married for 10 years. He also coaches a team in the PJFL league. His son Napoleon Kaufman Jr., currently attends Bishop O'Dowd high school in Oakland.