Brigman “Brig” Owens, a former NFL star and co-founder of Bennett & Owens, a sports management and real estate development firm, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Cincinnati’s Commencement Ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 14, at Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center. The honorary degree represents the highest award given by the University of Cincinnati.
Owens is a former All-American football player for the University of Cincinnati and graduated from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services in 1965. He attended the Antioch School of Law (now named the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia) and received his law degree from Potomac Law School.
Prior to founding his own firm, Owens served as assistant executive director and associate counsel to the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) from 1979-1984. While with the NFLPA, he was a member of the negotiating team that developed a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL.
Owens is a 13-year veteran of the NFL, beginning with the Dallas Cowboys in 1965 and then with the Washington Redskins in 1966, where he was a seven-year player representative and defensive captain. He was selected as one of the 70 Greatest Players in the Washington Redskins’ history.
His commitment to the future success of America’s youth is unwavering. He created the Professional Athletes Youth Foundation and Community Service Department for the NFLPA where he raised more than $10 million to implement a youth development program across 10 cities. The program was selected by the Department of Education as one of the top exemplary programs in the nation.
In 1985, he founded a non-profit program called Super Leaders, which strived to provide high-school students with positive leadership skills. Since its formation, more than 22,000 students have graduated from the Super Leaders program – a 98 percent high-school graduation rate, with 75 percent of the students continuing their college education. The program has student participants in the District of Columbia and three counties in Maryland.
In 1990, Owens and his business partner, Richard Bennett, sponsored 65 sixth-grade students through the “I Have a Dream Program,” in which the two guaranteed payment of the students’ college education if they graduated from high school. Thirty-five of the program’s students finished college.
Because of his commitment to country and community, he was one of six people selected to receive the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in 1990. Owens lives in Virginia with his wife, Patti, a graduate of Walnut Hills High School. They have two grown daughters, Robin Wright and Tracey Benbassat, and two grandchildren, Owen and Reyna Wright.