Burgess Owens

American politician & football player (born 1951)

Burgess Owens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Preceded byBen McAdams
Personal details
Clarence Burgess Owens

(1951-08-02) August 2, 1951 (age 72)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Josie Owens
(m. 1978; div. 2012)
Residence(s)Herriman, Utah, U.S.[1]
EducationUniversity of Miami (BS)
WebsiteHouse website
American football player

American football career
No. 22, 44
Personal information
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:199 lb (90 kg)
Career information
High school:Rickards (Tallahassee, Florida)
College:Miami (FL)
NFL draft:1973 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Int. return yards:458
Defensive Touchdowns:4
Player stats at PFR

Clarence Burgess Owens (born August 2, 1951) is an American politician, nonprofit executive, and former professional football player serving as the U.S. representative for Utah's 4th congressional district since 2021. He played safety for 10 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, winning a championship with the Raiders in Super Bowl XV in 1980. Since leaving the NFL, Owens has founded several businesses and is the CEO of a nonprofit dedicated to helping troubled and incarcerated youth. A Republican, Owens was first elected to Congress in 2020, when he narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Ben McAdams in the 2020 election. Owens is one of four black Republicans in the House of Representatives.[2]

Early life

Owens was born in Columbus, Ohio, where his Texas-born father had come to do graduate studies he could not complete in Texas due to Jim Crow laws.[3] The family later moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where Owens's father taught as a college professor. Owens was raised in a Baptist home.[3]

Education and football career

Owens graduated from Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1969.[4] He was one of four African-American players who were integrated onto a football team at a historically white high school.[5] Owens was the third of four black athletes recruited to play at the University of Miami and the third black student to earn a scholarship.[5][3] He was named a First-team All-American defensive back, Most Valuable Defensive Player of the North–South All Star Game, and MVP of the Coaches All-American Game. He was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall Of Fame in 1980, and its Orange Bowl "Ring of Honor" in 1999.

Owens earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Chemistry from the University of Miami.[6]

The New York Jets selected Owens with the 13th pick in the first round of the 1973 NFL draft. During his rookie season, he returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos. This was the Jets' only touchdown scored on a kickoff return during the 1970s.[citation needed] He was a regular starter for the Jets for most of the 1970s, and was a part of the Raiders' 1980 Super Bowl XV championship team.

Post-football career

In 1983, Owens moved to New York City. Shortly after leaving professional football, he and his brother ran a business that sold electronics to other businesses to track business expenses. The venture failed and Owens eventually declared bankruptcy.[3]

Owens later relocated to a small apartment in Brooklyn, where he worked as a chimney sweep and security guard. He later moved to Philadelphia, where he took a sales job with WordPerfect.[3] In later years he was an account executive with Sprint and Motorola, and from 2009 to 2013 he owned a business called Pure and Simple Solutions.[7]

He is a founder, board member, and CEO of Second Chance 4 Youth, founded in 2019, a nonprofit dedicated to helping troubled and incarcerated youth.[8][9]

Owens has been a frequent guest contributor at Fox News.[10]

U.S. House of Representatives



In November 2019, Owens announced that he would run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Utah's 4th congressional district. He was one of four candidates in the Republican primary.

On June 30, Owens won the primary with 43% of the vote, defeating Utah State Representative Kim Coleman by 20 points. He also defeated challengers KSL radio personality Jay McFarland and businessman Trent Christensen.[11][12]

Owens was a speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention.[13]

Owens faced Democratic incumbent Ben McAdams in the general election. On November 14, eleven days after the election and with 99% of precincts reporting, President Donald Trump and Utah U.S. Senator Mike Lee congratulated Owens on winning the election, based upon Breitbart News calling it for Owens.[14] McAdams conceded to Owens on November 16[15] and the Associated Press called the race for Owens.[16]


Owens won the Republican primary with 61.9% of the vote against challenger Jake Hunsaker. In the general election he defeated Democratic nominee Darlene McDonald and United Utah Party nominee January Walker, running with the endorsement of the Forward Party.


In late 2020, Owens was identified as a participant in the "Freedom Force", a group of incoming Republican members of the House of Representatives who oppose far-left ideology in the House, specifically the progressive group called "the Squad".[17][18][19]

On January 6, 2021, during the certification of electoral votes for the 2020 United States presidential election, Owens opposed the objection to the electors from Arizona, but supported the objection to the electors from Pennsylvania.[20][21]

In 2021, Owens opposed the For the People Act, a Democratic-sponsored bill to reform election laws.[22]

In 2021, Owens co-sponsored the Fairness for All Act, the Republican alternative to the Equality Act.[23] The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and protect the free exercise of religion.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Owens has said his views were liberal upon leaving the NFL in 1982. During his 2020 Republican primary campaign, he described his current views as "very conservative".[26][3] In June 2019, Owens provided testimony to a United States House Committee on the Judiciary subcommittee opposing a bill that advocated reparations for slavery.[27] He has also criticized U.S. national anthem protests and Colin Kaepernick.[28] In November 2019, Owens called Donald Trump "an advocate for black Americans".[29] On January 6, 2021, he voted to reject Pennsylvania's electoral votes for President-elect Biden but did not vote to reject Arizona's.[30] At a June 1, 2020, Republican primary debate, Owens said Democrats in Washington are held in thrall by Marxists and socialists. He said, "The days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill are over. We're dealing with people who hate our country".


He said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and that he supported President Trump.[31] Later on in the campaign, Owens changed his stance, saying that coverage for preexisting conditions should be protected, and that he did not support repeal of Obamacare.[32][33][34]


In a candidate forum in October 2020, Owens said the country's top economic need was to reduce business regulations and make tax cuts. He also stated his opposition to a minimum wage increase.[35] When asked about the need for bipartisanship, he responded:

The first thing we have to do is make sure that the Republican Party gets control again... We're at a point now we just cannot afford to go off the cliff and allow a socialist to actually take the lead now... We have to be honest about this. There are truly people who don't love our culture and do anything to destroy it and transform us into something else.

LGBT rights

On July 19, 2022, Owens was among 47 Republican representatives who voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify the right to same-sex marriage in federal law.[36] However, Owens voted "present" on final passage on December 8, 2022.[37]

In August 2022, Owens co-sponsored a bill put forth by Marjorie Taylor Greene that would criminalize gender-affirming health care for trans youth.[38]

Big Tech

In 2022, Owens was one of 39 Republicans to vote for the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022, an antitrust package that would crack down on corporations for anti-competitive behavior.[39][40]

Personal life

According to his website, Owens was married for 34 years and had six children before he and his wife divorced. He is a prostate cancer survivor.[41]

Owens is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has spoken publicly about his faith.[4][42] He joined the Church during his final season with the Oakland Raiders.[5] Crediting the influence of teammate Todd Christensen, Owens (raised Baptist), and his wife Josie (raised Catholic), were baptized on December 31, 1982.[5] In 1988, he spoke at a meeting sponsored by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies held on the 10th anniversary of the 1978 Revelation on Priesthood.[43]

Works and publications

  • It's All About Team: Exposing the Black Talented Tenth, Paperless Publishing LLC, 2012.
  • Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps, Post Hill Press, 2016.
  • Why I Stand: From Freedom to the Killing Fields of Socialism, Post Hill Press, 2018.

See also


  1. ^ Dean, Suzanne (January 13, 2021). "Congressmen representing Sanpete both vote yes on electoral objections". Sanpete Messenger. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  2. ^ "Black-American Members by Congress | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Burr, Thomas (July 6, 2020). "Meet Burgess Owens, the Utah Republican who seeks to replace Rep. Ben McAdams". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Ensley, Gerald (April 10, 2008). "Ex-NFL player with Tallahassee roots speaks Friday". Tallahassee Democrat. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d Toone, Trent (May 30, 2013). "Former Oakland Raider recounts LDS conversion". Deseret News. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  6. ^ "Burgess Owens". Young America's Foundation. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  7. ^ "Vote Smart | Facts For All". Vote Smart. Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  8. ^ "Burgess Owens – Sagamore Institute". June 2, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  9. ^ "A second look at Burgess Owens' Second Chance 4 Youth nonprofit". Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  10. ^ "Burgess Owens appears on his way to a win over Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah's 4th Congressional District race". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  11. ^ Mihaly, Abigail (July 1, 2020). "Former NFL player Burgess Owens Wins Utah GOP primary". The Hill. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  12. ^ "Former KSL radio personality Jay McFarland to run for Congress against Ben McAdams". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  13. ^ "Burgess Owens touts Trump's record on race in speech at the Republican National Convention". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  14. ^ Imlay, Ashley. Trump, Lee congratulate Owens on win, while race remains to be called, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 14, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  15. ^ Roche, Lisa Riley (November 16, 2020). "Rep. Ben McAdams to concede race; Burgess Owens wins in 4th Congressional District". Deseret News. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  16. ^ Whitehurst, Lindsay & Sophia Eppolito. Republican Burgess Owens unseats Utah congressman McAdams, Associated Press, November 16, 2020.
  17. ^ Jankowicz, Mia. "A group of incoming GOP House members, calling themselves the 'Freedom Force,' are trying to counter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 'Squad'". Business Insider.
  18. ^ Parke, Caleb (December 1, 2020). "GOP Congresswoman-elect on forming 'Freedom Force': Left is 'totally out of line' with mainstream". Fox News.
  19. ^ Noor, Poppy (November 30, 2020). "The 'Freedom Force': Republican group takes on the Squad and 'evil' socialism". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Yourish, Karen; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise (January 7, 2021). "The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results". New York Times.
  21. ^ Vandenack, Tim (January 7, 2021). "Utah delegation splits on controversial objections to presidential vote totals". Standard-Examiner. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  22. ^ Romboy, Dennis (March 10, 2021). "Sen. Mike Lee says 'devil himself' wrote Democrats' election reform plan". Deseret News. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  23. ^ "Fairness for All Act (H.R. 1440)".
  24. ^ "Congressman Owens Appointed to Education and Labor, House Judiciary Committees | Representative Burgess Owens". owens.house.gov. January 25, 2021. Archived from the original on February 7, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  25. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  26. ^ "3 GOP candidates concede 4th District primary race to Burgess Owens". KSL.
  27. ^ Segers, Grace (June 19, 2019). "House committee confronts the "inheritance of slavery" in panel on reparations". CBS News. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  28. ^ "For Burgess Owens, his political journey began in an NFL locker room". SI.com. June 28, 2020. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  29. ^ Roche, Lisa Riley (November 6, 2019). "Former NFL player Burgess Owens gets in 4th Congressional District race". Deseret News. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  30. ^ Yourish, Karen; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise (January 7, 2021). "The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  31. ^ "4th District Republicans debate economy, COVID-19 ahead of June primary election". UtahPolicy.com. June 1, 2020.
  32. ^ "Analysis: Burgess Owens flip-flops on support for Obamacare repeal". Salt Lake Tribune.
  33. ^ "Health care, racism divide Rep. Ben McAdams, Burgess Owens in only debate". Deseret News. October 12, 2020.
  34. ^ "Ben McAdams and Burgess Owens Spar on Healthcare Plans In 4th Congressional District Debate". KUER.
  35. ^ "Burgess". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  36. ^ Lai, Stephanie (July 19, 2022). "House Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill Amid Concern About Court Reversal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  37. ^ "Roll Call 513". Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. December 8, 2022. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  38. ^ Migdon, Brooke; Brooks, Emily (August 19, 2022). "Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to make gender-affirming care for transgender youth a felony". The Hill. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  39. ^ "House passes antitrust bill that hikes M&A fees as larger efforts targeting tech have stalled". CNBC. September 29, 2022.
  40. ^ "H.R. 3843: Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022 -- House Vote #460 -- Sep 29, 2022".
  41. ^ Conklin, Audrey (August 26, 2020). "RNC speakers: What to know about Burgess Owens". Fox News. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  42. ^ Raftery, Kay (June 17, 1997). "Pro Football Players Share Their Mormon Faith Ty Detmer, Burgess Owens And Vai Sikahema Told A Packed Sanctuary Of The Role Of Religion In Their Lives". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  43. ^ "LDS Afro-American Symposium". Ensign. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. August 1988. Retrieved February 6, 2021.

External links

Wikiquote has quotations related to Burgess Owens.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Burgess Owens.
  • Representative Burgess Owens official U.S. House website
  • Campaign website
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