Cincinnati football great Brig Owens dies

Zach StipeZach Stipe

Associate AD/Communications

CINCINNATI – Brigman “Brig” Owens, a University of Cincinnati football star and 1965 graduate, passed away on Tuesday.

Owens played as a quarterback and captained the Bearcats in 1963 and 1964. He led UC to consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championships before enjoying a 13-year career in the NFL, where he started 123 games in safety for Washington.

Owens was inducted into UC’s James P. Kelly Athletics Hall of Fame in 1979 and is a member of the Commanders’ Ring of Honor.

He studied law and was Executive Director and Associate Counsel of the NFLPA from 1979 to 1984.

“Our condolences go out to the Owens family for their loss,” Cincinnati Director of Athletics John Cunningham said. “Brig was a great student athlete at the University of Cincinnati and also a great player for Washington, but what’s most impressive is the impact he’s had off the field and his dedication to helping young people. We were honored that he continued to be committed to our university over the years. Brig’s life as a student, athlete, entrepreneur and community leader can serve as an inspiration for all of us.”

After starting at Fullerton, California College, where he was a JUCO All-American, Owens served as quarterback, halfback, punter and kicker for the Bearcats. He led the team in rushing yards (556) and rushing touchdowns (six) in 1963, and led UC to a 16-5 mark in the 1963 and 1964 seasons. During his two-year career, he rushed for 1,764 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Selected in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1965, he was traded to Washington the next year and thrived as a defenseman. He ranks second all-time in Washington history with 36 interceptions, and his 686 interception return yards are the most in team history. He had one interception in Super Bowl VII and was named one of Washington’s 80 Greatest Players in 2002.

After his playing career and serving as head of the NFLPA, Owens founded Bennett & Owens, a sports management and commercial real estate company. He remained committed to helping young people, leading leadership, drug prevention and youth development programs in Washington DC high schools. He has served on numerous boards, including Big Brother of America and the Vince Lombardi Foundation.

Owens received an honorary doctorate from UC in 2008.

The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics competes at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics with a vision to achieve Next level success for all 18 varsity teams and more than 500 student-athletes. The Bearcats have a proud track and field history, winning eight national championships and 117 conference titles. The Cincinnati men’s basketball team is one of the 15 most successful programs of all time, while the 2021 football team was the first program of the American Athletic Conference to take part in College Football Playoffs. Volleyball player Jordan Thompson, Olympic champion, NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and Major League Baseball-Legende Sandy Koufax are among the several luminaries that have started as Bearcats.

UC student-athletes collectively achieved an overall GPA of 3,369 in Spring 2021, with 77 percent earning honors rolls, while five student-athletes received awards from CoSIDA Academic All-America.

Under the direction of the sports director John Cunninghamand supported by more than 150 full-time employees, UC Athletics’ mission is associate our community, extend our university and A hit the lives of student athletes preparing to change the world on and off the court.

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