They always say there is more to life than football. If you ask former Washington Husky and NFL great Napoleon "Nip" Kaufman he will tell you that being called upon to perform a higher service in the name of his personal savior is his life's most important achievement.
Napoleon was one of the greatest football players to ever play at Washington and in the Pac 10 conference. The way he pumped his legs when he ran was described as being very similar to mimicking a sewing machine needle. He was Reggie Bush before there was a Reggie Bush.
He was an important part of the 1991 national championship team as a true freshman and went on to become the school's all-time leader in rushing yards with 4106 total yards during his career.
He was drafted in the first round by the Oakland Raiders in 1995. During a six year NFL career Kaufman amassed 4792 yards rushing with an impressive 4.90 yards per carry average. Nip was the Raiders primary back in 1997 and 1998, when he rushed for 1,294 and 921 yards in those two seasons along with an impressive 65 receptions.
He did the unthinkable after the 2000 season when he retired at the very top of his game to pursue being a Christian minister. Today he is the senior pastor at The Well Christian Community Church in Dublin, California. Kaufman took over the church located in the East Bay back in 2003 when it only had 15 members. Today it has over 1500.
Kaufman says that back when he was 23 and on top of the world as an NFL running back he began to feel a certain emptiness in his life. A friend of his on the Raiders questioned his behavior on and off the football field by saying "Napoleon," Don't you know God can use your life?"
Kaufman who was raised Christian but never really considered himself saved says that the words of his friend hit him like a ton of bricks and he immediately changed the direction of his life. A few years later Kaufman walked away from football to live a life dedicated to helping others in his community.
Fifteen years later he says he is still in shock and doesn't ever regret the decision to retire early to pursue the ministry. "I've got a beautiful wife. I've got beautiful kids. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't cuss. I'm faithful to my wife, to my kids. I have God in my heart. I've forgiven people. I love people. Is this real?"
Napoleon Kaufman is truly a man with a celebrated past, few regrets, and a fantastic future built around the principles of helping others.
(To see the rest of the Buick Human Highlight Reel, and even share a story of your own, go to ncaa.com/buick. This post is sponsored by Buick.)