Dave Najarian ’81 Inducted 2003


A dominating middle linebacker for the Golden Gustie football program in the early '80s, Dave Najarian completed his career as the program's all-time leading tackler with 258 and all-time sack leader with 18. He currently ranks fifth in tackles and third in sacks. Najarian's size (6--4, 230) and speed allowed him to be as effective at rushing the passer as he was at dropping back into pass coverage. He was also known for his ability to deliver crushing tackles on unsuspecting running backs. Dave teamed with his brother Jon to form one of the most fearsome linebacking tandems in Golden Gustie history in 1979 and 1980. Najarian earned first-team all-conference honors in 1981 and 1982 and was named Second Team NAIA All-America in 1981. Najarian was also honored for his academic accomplishments as he was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team in both 1980 and 1981 and became the first Gustavus football player to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1981.

A cum laude graduate with a major in biology/pre-medicine, Najarian worked in surgical research for two years at the University of Minnesota before attending medical school for two years. In 1987, Najarian opened a Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits restaurant in Minneapolis, which he has successfully operated for the past 16 years. Paul and his wife, Kristine, live in Stillwater where they home-school their five children, Jessica (16), Daved (12), Domonique (10), Jonathan (7), and Michael (4).