OAKLAND -- Former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman has been hired as Bishop O'Dowd High's head varsity football coach.

"I'm just thrilled," Kaufman said.

Kaufman, 40, said that he did not consider being a head coach until a month ago.

"I started getting this itch, that I could see myself taking over a program," he said.

"No. 1, I really enjoy the school. I appreciate from an academic aspect the things they have accomplished at the school, and from a sports and athletic standpoint, I was really impressed with what they've done at this school."

Kaufman takes over for another former NFL star, Hardy Nickerson, who stepped down last month after four seasons as the Dragons coach.

Former Oakland Raider Napoleon Kaufman, senior pastor, delivers a sermon at The Well Christian Community Church in Livermore, Calif., on Sunday, June 23,
Former Oakland Raider Napoleon Kaufman, senior pastor, delivers a sermon at The Well Christian Community Church in Livermore, Calif., on Sunday, June 23, 2013. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

Kaufman's son, Napoleon Jr., will be a junior on the football team next season, and his son Nathanael will be a freshman at Bishop O'Dowd in the fall. Kaufman said it is not his intention to leave after his sons graduate.

"I love kids, I love sports, and I feel this is an awesome way to give back to the community," he said.

Kaufman, a senior pastor of The Well Christian Community church in Livermore, played six seasons for the Raiders and retired after the 2000 season. He rushed for 4,792 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in 91 NFL games. He was also a football and track star at Lompoc High School.

"I love my church and I see this as an extension of my work," said Kaufman, who also starred at the University of Washington and was the 1994 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. "I sat down with my elders. ... my staff and it was clear that I had the time to do (this coaching position)."

Kaufman said that he was a volunteer coach at O'Dowd the past two seasons and has also been also a coach in the Pleasanton Junior Football League.

He says that his coaching style is as an encourager "but I'm also firm but fair," he said.

Oakland Raiders running back Napolean Kaufman lundges for extra yardage while in the grasp of Buffalo Bills defenders Henry Jones (20), and Kurt Schulz
Oakland Raiders running back Napolean Kaufman lundges for extra yardage while in the grasp of Buffalo Bills defenders Henry Jones (20), and Kurt Schulz (24) during the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 17, 1999 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. The Raiders held on to win 20-14. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

In the 2012 season, the Dragons were 3-7 overall and 2-3 in West Alameda County Conference-Foothill Division play.

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