Former Redskins linebacker Kurt Gouveia retired after the 1999 season, but he found himself back at Redskins Park this summer for two-a-days. He wasn't wearing pads and a helmet, though. Instead, he was a coaching intern taking part in the NFL's Minority Coaching Fellowship Program.
"I just thought it was the closest thing I could get to football after I retired," Gouveia said. "I still have the urge to go out there and play, but I know I can't do it anymore. But I have a lot of knowledge about the game. I want to teach."
Gouveia is a native of the Hawaiian Islands and was a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Hawaii's football team in 2002. After a year hiatus, he will return to help coach the Rainbow Warriors this fall as a graduate assistant.
Meantime, he joined the Redskins' coaching staff for training camp in hopes of advancing his coaching career, teaching players and learning more about coaching from Joe Gibbs and his staff.
"I was helping out at the University of Hawaii and really enjoying working with the college kids," Gouveia said. "I heard about the minority internship program and thought maybe I can get back into the NFL and get closer to the game again and see where it leads.'"
Gouveia was at Redskins Park for the first two weeks of training camp and has since returned to Hawaii.
Gouveia played for the Redskins from 1987-1994, and again in his final season in 1999. He won two Super Bowls under Gibbs, playing a particularly large role in the second. In Super Bowl XXVI, Gouveia intercepted a pass from Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and returned it to the Bills' two-yard line to set up the Redskins' 24-0 lead early in the second half.
"Kurt was part of the glory years here," Gibbs said. "He understands what tradition is. You see some of the players going to him [for knowledge]."
The NFL's Minority Coaching Fellowship Program was started by the league in 1987 and is one of its initiatives encouraging the hiring of minority coaches. Gouveia's history with Gibbs and the Redskins provided an opportunity for him to take part in the program. After all, one would be hard pressed to find a better coaching staff to learn from.
"I wanted to come here because I knew the system, I knew the program, I knew what coach Gibbs was expecting. I knew his attitude towards the game," Gouveia said. "If I can get something out of this and take it back to the University of Hawaii, it will be a benefit for the kids and me."
Gouveia said that his experience was very positive. He saw training camp from a coach's perspective and is learning a great deal that will help him in the future.
"There's a lot of work," he said. "I know what the coaches are going through now. I'm trying to figure out things like 'Can he play? Can he not play? Is he smart? Will he retain a lot of the information?' Now I know what the coaches were thinking when they were looking at me."
Gouveia learned the Redskins' defensive schemes and teaching players techniques when they can use the help. He also attends all of the coaches' meetings and learns by watching how they are conducted.
As for his coaching future, Gouveia, a member of the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame and a former player at national champion Brigham Young, is torn by the question: college or pro?
"I really enjoy college, but eventually I want to get back to the pros," he said. "I expect a lot from my college kids. I was an athlete, and I expect them to be as talented as I was when I was playing. I know in college that the kids are just coming out of high school. Some may not have had good coaching, and I have to focus on teaching them basic fundamentals. Eventually, I'd like to test my skills in the professional ranks."
Learning from a Hall of Famer in Gibbs, of course, isn't a bad way to start.
"Hopefully he's going to have a great coaching career," Gibbs said. "It's neat having him here among the group of people we could bring in and work with."