Interview: Napoleon McCallum

Napoleon McCallum always ran hard. He was so tough. For sure, an all-time Navy great. McCallum ended his career in 1985 as Navy's all-time leading rusher with 4,179 yards. He put up 7,172 all-purpose yards for the Midshipmen and is a two-time consensus All-American.

McCallum went on to the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders. He played for the Raiders in 1986, splitting duty with the U.S. Navy, before serving his five-year military commitment. McCallum rejoined the Raiders in 1990 and remained in the NFL until 1994 when he suffered a ruptured artery in his left knee during a Monday Night Football game against San Francisco that ended his career.

These days, McCallum lives in Las Vegas and is director of community development for Las Vegas Sands Corp. McCallum still loves Navy football and took some time to answer some questions about his career and other topics this week for GoMids.com:

GoMids.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your former Navy teammates?
Napoleon McCallum: Eddie Meyers and I are real close. I still keep in touch with Travis Wallington and Ron McDonald. It's awesome to hear about all the great things they are doing. It's still a fun group of guys. We can talk about anything and don't have to be politically correct. We love to talk about the old times.

GM: What do you think of Navy's success over the past few years under coach Paul Johnson?
NM: I remember in Johnson's first year I saw him run this special teams play. It was great. I saw what he was trying to do, but he didn't have all the personnel yet. Coach Johnson has really worked wonders and I know there are great things to come for Navy football.

GM: Word is Navy might be even better this year than last season. What's your take on the 2006 season?
NM: I can't wait. I hope one day soon we can be right up there with the likes of Notre Dame and be on national television every week. I know all the alumni are really enjoying Navy football right now.

GM: Most memorable moment at Navy?
NM: I would say my last Army-Navy game (in 1985). It was just a heartfelt game, the seniors last game together. We laid it all out there and I remember my teammates carrying me out on their shoulders (after a 17-7 win).

GM: Speaking of Army, what do you make of Navy's domination of the Black Knights the past four years?
NM: Army is striving to get better. It all goes in cycles. Right now, we're on top, and I hope we stay on top. But they are pretty smart up at West Point. They will figure out how to get more competitive and turn it around.

GM: What was the best thing about playing for the Oakland Raiders in NFL?
NM: The competition and level of play. In practice, the speed of the game was like college. When it came to game day it was unbelievable: the quality of players, the physical play, the desire to win. With the large stadiums the adrenaline really got going.

GM: If you didn't have to fulfill your five-year commitment to the Navy do you think your career would have been different?
NM: I think I would have been a first round draft choice if it I didn't have to serve the commitment. But a lot of things could have happened. I did have a great career.

GM: Can you describe the injury that ended your career?
NM: I almost lost my leg. I was 10 days away from amputation. I didn't break bones, but I dislocated ligaments and tore all four nerves. It wasn't painful at all, but the nerve was severed.

GM: How tough was that whole experience?
NM: I could not believe it. I heard my leg was dislocated and I thought I could just pop it back like a finger and go play. I didn't realize how bad it was until I talked to the doctor. It was like the equivalent of being in a car accident.

GM: So when can fans expect to see you at a Navy game?
NM: I try to go every year. Last season I was (in Annapolis) for our team's 20th anniversary. I will probably be there this year some time in October. I just love to see all the support the team is getting. That helps the team be so good.


Napoleon McCallum runs for the Raiders in 1994. (Stephen Dunn/ Getty)

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