The Three Napoleons Part 1 – Napoleon McCallum  

I like to start by apologising by not having an article last week . I just had a ton on my plate, with work, personal issues and the holidays, but we are back this week!

One of the weird trivia questions about the NFL is that there have only been three men named Napoleon that have played in the modern game and all of them were drafted and played for the Raiders! 

They are (in order of appearance) Napoleon McCallum, Napoleon Kaufman and Napoleon Harris.  In fact two of them were first round picks (Kaufman and Harris) and McCallum probably would have been if not for that he went to Navy and had to serve four years in the military. 

McCallum was a college star and a runner up for the Heisman in 1985. In his Junior year he ran for over 1,400 yards rushing and had 11 total tds, in his senior year he had nearly 1,300 yards rushing and 44 catches 1,685 total yards and 15 total tds in only 11 games. 

McCallum then became the first Navy player in history to be allowed to play in the NFL while serving his 4 years in the Navy. The story of his rookie season was one of legend. He would work from 5:30 am to 1:30pm on the USS Peleliu stationed in Long Beach, California. 

His wife would pick him up from the ship and drive him to practise, he would do private film studies by himself in the evening after practice, would go to bed early and get up again. In his second year his new ship was stationed in the Indian ocean preventing him from playing.

His rookie year of 1986 was his most productive season. With Marcus Allen injured much of the 1986 season McCallum received significant playing time and he ran for over 500 yards and caught 14 passes. In a win over Houston that season he ran for a career high 84 yards and had a career high 106 yards from scrimmage. 

After he finished his Navy service McCallum returned to the Raiders in 1990 and served mostly as a backup and on special teams. In a blow out win over the Chargers in 1991 McCallum scored his first touchdown in 5 years and in a win over the Bengals he ran 10 times for 40 yards, the most yards and carries he had in a game since his rookie year.

It was the 1993 postseason that McCallum would be most remembered for. During the 1993 season McCallum scored 3 TDs on only 37 carries and ran for 114 yards including  a season high 50 yards on 9 carries and a TD in a win over the Bears. 

Late in the year starting Running Back Greg Robinson was injured and the Raiders employed a running back by committee approach. 

In the playoffs McCallum seized the lead role. The Raiders faced the hated Broncos in the first round of the 1993 playoffs after a comeback win in Overtime against them in the final game of the 1993 season. After a shoot out of a first half which saw Jeff Hostetler throw for 3 TDs and the game tied at 21 at the half, McCallum and the Raiders power run game took over. 

In the second half Napoleon had TD runs of 1,2 and 26 yards, the 26 yarder being the longest touchdown run of his career. He finished the game with 14 carries for 82 yards 5.9 yards per carry and a Raider playoff record 3 rushing TDs (which is still a Raider playoff record to this day). 

The next week he ran for another 56 yards and 2 tds in the cold of Buffalo (a game I attended) in a playoff loss in one of the coldest games in NFL history. On one drive the Raiders handed him three consecutive carries to punch in a TD from the one yard line. This gave him 138 yards and 5 TDs in two playoff games. The 5 rushing TDs in two consecutive playoff games remains a Raider playoff record.

It is ironic that I wrote this article the day after Nick Chubb suffered a brutal injury because Napoleon suffered a similar horrific knee injury during a Monday night game in 1994 which ended his career. 

Another irony of McCallums career is that he might be more famous for playing a major role in the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. For years McCallum had recommended to Mark and Al Davis relocate the team to Vegas not Los Angeles if they could not get a new stadium in Oakland. 

According to Wikipedia 

“McCallum played a significant role in the Oakland Raiders relocation to Las Vegas by setting up a meeting in 2015 between Raiders owner Mark Davis and various officials in Las Vegas after approaching Davis about moving the team to Las Vegas before a Broncos-Raiders game on November 9, 2014, in Oakland. McCallum was the first to suggest meeting with UNLV about the idea. Previously, Las Vegas officials, notably Mayor Carolyn Goodman, had suggested building a stadium near Las Vegas Motor Speedway.[13] He later set up a meeting between Davis and his boss at Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson who would later help Davis secure the public money needed to build Allegiant Stadium.[14]


One of the reasons I started this blog is to pay tribute to players like Napoleon McCallum, who might have ended up being forgotten despite being a great man who served his country, set Raider records and paved the way for the Raiders move to Las Vegas ! 

Below are the highlights of the 1993 season with Napoleon’s playoff game coming around the 21 minute 20 second mark! The beginning of the video also shows one of his touchdowns against the Bills.