Brig Owens, Former NFL Defensive Back, Dead at 79

by Dustin Schutte

Former NFL defensive back Brig Owens has died at the age of 79. The Washington Commanders released a statement regarding his passing on Thursday.

Owens had a 13-year career in the NFL, spending 12 of those seasons with Washington (1966-77). He started his career with the Dallas Cowboys but spent only one year with the organization. The Dallas Cowboys selected Owens in the seventh round of the 1965 NFL Draft.

“The Washington Commanders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Brig Owens,” Washington’s statement read. “Brig was a beloved part of our organization and community and was rightfully honored as a member of the 80 Greatest Players in Washington history and Washington Commanders Ring of Fame.”

Owens hauled in 36 interceptions and scored five touchdowns during his career in Washington. He played in 158 total games in the NFL. His interception total ranks second-all-time in Washington franchise history.

Brig Owens also had 686 interception return yards, which is still an organization record.

Brig Owens, A Man of Many Talents

In the NFL, Brig Owens emerged as one of the top defensive backs in the game. It’s a pretty remarkable story if you look at his previous playing days, too.

Owens was a quarterback, placekicker and punter during his college days at Cincinnati. The Dallas Cowboys converted him to safety in his rookie year (1965). Dallas traded Owens to Washington before the 1966 season, spending the rest of his professional career in the nation’s capital.

Owens enjoyed some pretty remarkable moments in his NFL career. The defensive back intercepted a pass off Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese in Super Bowl VII. In 1966, Owens was responsible for two defensive touchdowns in Washington’s 72-41 over the New York Giants. According to, that game is still the highest-scoring affair in league history.

Following his playing career, Owens served as the assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association.