Remembering Brig Owens

Greetings from The Booth!

In the down time between the Spring and Fall seasons at Shenandoah University, we take time this week to recognize the academic achievements of the Hornet’s Athletic Department. For only the second time since team GPAs have been tracked at SU, all 22 intercollegiate programs have at least a 3.0 team grade point average. Ashley Smeltzer-Kraft’s field hockey team were the ‘brainiacs” of the bunch, leading the way with a collective 3.68, while on the men’s side, ODAC champ baseball had a team 3.4. When you consider the hectic schedule of a D-3 student-athlete, this is an amazing accomplishment. The bar has been set high at Shenandoah, both on the academic and athletic fronts, not to mention community service, and you can’t do much better than 22 for 22!  For more on this topic, check out this week’s Sports Dog’s Podcast, and my conversation with SU’s Scott Musa.

If you’re a fan of the old Washington Redskins’ “Over The Hill Gang” of the 1970’s, this is a tough week. On Tuesday, safety Brig Owens passed away at the age of 79. Owens was a defensive captain for those George Allen-led teams, including the 1972 squad, who went all the way to Super Bowl VII, before falling to Miami (Owens picked off a pass in that game).

His 36 interceptions are second only to the great Darrell Green in team history, a mark that earned Owens a spot in the ‘Skins Ring Of Fame. He also made some NFL history that you may not know about. In 1966, Owens and tight end Jerry Smith became the league’s first interracial roommates, and remained so in their 12 seasons in DC. In an age where most NFL players had to have an off-season job to make ends meet, Brig Owens attended law school as his playing days wound down, and put that to good use in the NFL Players Association as a player rep, and assistant executive director.

I had the pleasure, through my good friend Dr. Kurt Pierce (who played football at UVA and for the Miami Dolphins), of meeting Brig Owens over the Christmas holidays at the Sam Huff memorial in Middleburg. Among other things, we talked about maybe his most famous play. It happened on a Monday Night game in 1973 against the Dallas Cowboys. With the score tied at 7 late in the contest, RFK Stadium erupted as Owens picked off a Craig Morton pass and returned it 26 yards for what would be the game-winning score. That play was overshadowed somewhat by the Ken Houston goal line tackle moments later on Walt Garrison (the most famous tackle in Washington football history). I said to Brig, “I remember that interception like it was yesterday.” His reply to me, in his understated way, was “So do I.”

Brig Owens accomplished much on the field and off in his illustrious career , but my lingering memory of him will be of that legendary pick-six against the hated Cowboys. Rest in Peace, Brig! I’m proud to have met you…

Until the next visit from the Booth, GO HORNETS and HTTR!

RW

 

 

 

 

Vaya Con Dios Mo, CT, And Zim

Greetings from The Booth!

With Shenandoah University men’s basketball coming to an end this week in the ODAC Tournament, the book closes on a great broadcasting era at SU. Men’s basketball play-by-play voice Mike O’Dell has decided to hang up the headphones after a run that goes all the way back to the late 80’s. In that period of time Mike has taken us through the ups and downs of Hornet Hoop, from the NCAA years of Dave Dutton to the present, where times have been a bit tough. In every instance, Mike has been a professional (even with an occasional jab at an official) and has made even the losses seem exciting. Anyone who has ever done play-by-play knows how tough that can be. I had the pleasure of working with Mike through the early Dutton years, and several seasons in the 2000’s when I came to the River 95-3/WZRV, “The Flagship For SU Athletics,” and the thing I remember most are the many stories from the road we accumulated. Maybe we’ll write a book one day. Mike, I hope you enjoy your post-broadcast years, but as we both know, play-by-play gets in your blood and never leaves. Hornet fans will certainly miss your passion for SU and your golden tones…

Another goodbye, this one permanently, as we lost Washington receiver Charley Taylor this past weekend. Taylor, a Pro Football Hall Of Famer, retired as the leading NFL receiver of all time  (he has since fallen to 67th all-time), but you can look up the stats for yourself. Charley came to the ‘Skins in the mid-60’s as a running back and could have excelled at that position, if it weren’t for the fumbles. After 2 seasons at running back he was converted to a wide-receiver and the rest is history. Taylor, along with Bobby Mitchell and Jerry Smith, became part of one of the most prolific receiving corps in the NFL, hauling in the passes of Sonny Jurgensen. Those were mainly losing years for Washington, until the arrival of Vince Lombardi and George Allen, when Charley saved his best for the big games. In the 1972 NFC Championship, Taylor hauled in 2 Billy Kilmer TD passes, as Washington mauled the hated Cowboys at RFK Stadium 26-3. And, there was the familiar Charley Taylor “touchdown” pose after every score. Thanks for the memories, number 42…

Finally, a goodbye to Ryan Zimmerman, who last week retired after spending his entire career as a Washington National. Zim was drafted by the Nats out of UVA and almost immediately gave baseball-starved fans in DC a glimpse of how bright the future could be, even in those early losing years. When the Montreal Expos franchise came to Washington as the fledgling Nationals, my long-dormant passion for baseball was reignited, and Zimmerman was a big reason. On a roster full of names like Lastings Milledge, Zim was a homegrown talent, and even as the losses piled up, one could see that he was a core player that you could build  team around. Zim was “the king of the walkoff,” with 11 career game-ending home runs. I was fortunate enough to see one of those at RFK while hosting a Nationals baseball trip for several of our listeners. And it’s only fitting that after toiling through the lean years, that he finally got his ring several years ago. When all is said and done, Zim may not get to Cooperstown, but he is certainly a Hall-Of-Famer in the hearts of DC baseball fans.

Until the next visit, thank you Mo, Charley, and Zim…and GO HORNETS!

RW

Middletown announces Grand Marshals for 4th of July parade

christmas parade canceled

Middletown announced their Grand Marshals for the July 4th Celebration Parade and 225th anniversary.

The group features former Washington football players Brian Mitchell and Ken Harvey as well as Miss Virginia, Tatum Sheppard.

Mitchell ranks 2nd all time in NFL history in all purpose yards behind Jerry Rice and 3rd all time in punt return touchdowns.

Harvey is a 4 time Pro Bowler and one of the 70 greatest players in team history.

Miss Virginia is the daughter of former Miss America, Kellye Cash and Great Niece of Johnny Cash.

The parade will make its way down Main Street starting at 5 pm on the 4th.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Sports: Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Nats’ Slide Continues, Caps Win Finale, Former WFT Draft Pick Dies

The Washigton Nationals have now lost 6 of their last 7 games, folowing a 6-2 loss to the Phillies last night. Former Nat Bryce Harper cracked a homer against his old team, as the Nationals dropped to 13-18 on the season. Trea Turner continued his hot hitting with a 3-for-4 night for Washington, who take on the Phils again tonight starting at 6:35 on Sports Radio 1450.

The Baltimore bullpen gave up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th and lost to the New York Mets 3-2. The loss spoiled another strong performance from Oriole pitcher John Means, who gave up no runs in 6 innings of work. The 2 teams play again today just after noon.

The Caps beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 last night in the regular season finale. Michael Raffl scored the game-winning goal with just 3 seconds left for the Capitals, who will face Boston in the first round of the NHL Playoffs starting Saturday. The puck drops at 7 on The River 95-3.

And, quarterback Colt Brennan has died. Brennan set records at the University of Hawaii and was a former draft pick of the then-Washington Redskins. After a promising pre-season in 2008, Brennan never took a regular-season snap in the NFL. He was just 37.

Memorable Super Bowls

In this week’s SDPC, I’m joined by friend, client, and fellow sports geek Scott Snapp, as we talk about our most memorable Super Bowls, the first Super Bowls we remember, and predictions for The Big Game…and how could the Sports Dogs NOT talk about The Puppy Bowl? Enjoy!

R-Dog

Sports Dogs Podcast
Sports Dogs Podcast
Memorable Super Bowls
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