Cincinnati Football Great Brig Owens Passes Away

Zach Stipe

Associate AD / Communications

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

Owens starred at quarterback and was a captain for the Bearcats in 1963 and 1964, leading UC to back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference championships before a 13-year NFL career where he started 123 games at 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 went to law school and served as the executive director and associate counsel to 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 tremendous student-athlete at the University of Cincinnati, and also a great player for Washington, but what’s most impressive is the impact he had off the field and his commitment to helping young people. We were honored he stayed engaged with our university over the years. Brig’s life as a student-athlete, entrepreneur and community leader can serve as an inspiration for us all. “

After starting at Fullerton (Calif.) 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 (556 yards) and rushing touchdowns (six) in 1963 and guided UC to a 16-5 mark during the 1963 and 1964 seasons. He passed for 1,764 yards and 13 touchdowns during his two-year career.

A seventh-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1965, he was traded to Washington the next year and flourished as defensive back. 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 an interception in Super Bowl VII and was named among the 80 greatest players in Washington history in 2002.

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

Owens received an honorary doctoral degree from UC in 2008.

The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics competes at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics with the vision to reach Next Level Success for all 18 varsity teams and more than 500 student-athletes. The Bearcats have a proud athletics history, winning eight national championships and 117 conference titles. The Cincinnati men’s basketball team is among the 15 winningest all-time programs, while the football team became the first American Athletic Conference program to compete in the College Football Playoff in 2021. Olympic gold medalist volleyball player Jordan Thompson, NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and Major League Baseball legend Sandy Koufax are among the several luminaries who have competed as Bearcats.

UC student-athletes collectively posted a 3.369 overall GPA in the spring of 2021 with 77 percent earning spots on the Honor Roll, while five student-athletes collected CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades.

Under the leadership of Director of Athletics John Cunninghamand supported by more than 150 full-time staff members, UC Athletics’ mission is to connect our community, enhance our University and impact the lives of student-athletes as they prepare to change the world on and off the field.

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