Former Washington safety Brig Owens dies at age 79

Brig Owens
© Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Former Washington Commanders safety Brigman "Brig" Owens died on Wednesday morning, the team announced. He was 79.

"The Washington Commanders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Brig Owens," the Commanders said in a statement. "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."

Originally a seventh-round draft choice by the Cowboys in 1965, Owens spent one year on Dallas' practice squad before he was traded to Washington in August 1966. 

Over the next 12 seasons, Owens would establish himself as a mainstay in Washington's secondary. During that span, Owens would haul in 36 interceptions, which remains the second-most in franchise history, trailing only Darrell Green. Owens' 686 interception return yards remain the most in Washington's history.

Owens scored five touchdowns over his 12-year career, three off interceptions and two via fumble recovery. He retired from the NFL in 1977 and later worked for the NFLPA as an assistant executive director.

Owens was inducted into Washington's Ring of Fame in 2012 and named as one of the '80 Greatest Redskins' that same year.

"[Owens] was not only a standout on the gridiron but also a well-respected and accomplished businessman in the Washington community," the Commanders' statement concluded. "He was a man of great character, always there to help someone in need. Brig's impact on this community will never be forgotten. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Brig's family, friends, former teammates and fans during this difficult time."