Over the next few weeks we will be looking back on some Redskins greats for their heroics on the field as well as off of it. Today, Redskins.com intern Chris DeLisi explores the amazing story of Brig Owens.
For anyone that watched the Redskins during the late 1960’s and 1970’s the name Brig Owens should ring a bell. Well before the days of “shutdown” being a commonly used football term for defensive backs who harassed aerial attacks, Owens led the team in interceptions on three different occasions and when paired with fellow safety Ken Houston in the latter stages of his career, teams didn’t dare take a stab at the twosome.
A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Owens was drafted as a strong safety by the Dallas Cowboys in 1965. Immediately following his rookie season, though, he was traded to the Redskins; a move that he says was easily the best moment of his life.
Owens loved the Redskins, and was one of the best defensive backs to ever wear burgundy and gold, finishing with 36 interceptions in his career, second all-time in Redskins’ history and is currently a member of the prestigious 80 Greatest Redskins.
Towards the end of his playing career, though, he began weighing his options of possible careers to pursue and ultimately decided on law school.
His inspiration to go to law school came from meetings he and other players would have with NFL lawyers who tried to use their extensive law degrees to get players to agree to things they were not sure about. Owens knew that the only thing that separated him and a lawyer was a degree.
“I needed to know what they [were] talking about. I did research and said they’re not that smart, they just know how to apply it. So I decided to go to law school,” Owens said.
Owens was very ambitious when it came to his law studies. Despite playing football on Sundays, Owens would attend law school at night during the weekdays. He would record his lectures and listen to them again the next morning on his way to practice. Talk about dedication. He said that most nights, he would only get about four hours of sleep!
Not only did his lack of sleep not affect his play on the field, but it also helped him prepare for his opponents in the future.
“I did a lot of research on my opponents in the offseason. My time in law school made me want to do even more studying and research. I brought it to my time with the Redskins,” he said. “I used to study the tendencies of our opponents, and since we didn’t have computers, I used to do it by hand. Each team used to maintain the same habits if you just sat down and did the research. Easy to say, I did a lot of studying.”
Owens went on to serve as the assistant executive director of the NFLPA. Owens, who has nine siblings and two daughters, loves reaching out to the community and its youth programs and was his motivation in starting a youth leadership drug prevention program with Gene Upshaw. The two programs have been around for almost three decades now and have a 98 percent high school graduation rate.
For any Redskins fan seeking out a role model for hard work and ambition on and especially off the football field, look no further than Brig Owens.
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