I was stunned to read on NFL.com that former Washington Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman has passed away. It may be true that not every NFL fan in England may be aware of Mel, but for me he was an 80s Redskins icon.
As a 12 year old in 1986 I would buy a magazine in this country called Quarterback, a weekly American Football newspaper. Each week there would be an A2 size poster in the middle page, featuring an NFL superstar.
One of the first superstars that ever went onto my wall was none other than #55 Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman.
Looking menacing Kaufman was there to look after me when I was doing my homework, in a cold bedroom that had no central heating. He went through two different colours of blue tack (blue and then green) to keep him up on my wall, but for at least 4 years he was a daily presence in my life, looking after me when times were tough.
To read that Kaufman died aged 50 made me take a deep breath and again count my blessings. My thoughts are with his family and friends who will be needing support at this sad time.
Kaufman won two Super Bowls as a player (XVII v Dolphins and XXII v Broncos) and lost one (XVIII v Raiders) and won a third as a scout (Superbowl XXVI). He also had some respectable statistics. He also was on the 1980 Division II championship team as a Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo LB.
As a Redskins captain for 8 years (1981-1988) Kaufman let his leadership qualities speak for themselves. I understand he devoted a lot of his time to charity work, and made a positive difference in people’s lives. He recently came back to his college and was the linebackers coach.
It must be very hard for all those who played with Mel at Cal Poly and those linebackers who he was coaching this season at Cal Polyas well as other graduates of the college which include living NFL legend John Madden, cage fighter Chuck Liddell and MLB Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
His cause of death is as yet unknown.
Rest in peace Mel Kaufman – my boyhood poster hero.