Burgess Owens is a former University of Miami and NFL star who travels the country delivering a message of optimism, hope, and unity. He spent his childhood growing up in the Deep South during a time when the barriers of segregation were being torn down. As the third black American granted a scholarship to play football at the University of Miami, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Chemistry. During his college career, Burgess was named to Who’s Who Among College Students in American Universities and Colleges. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame of Outstanding College Athletes of America and later to the University of Miami’s Hall of Fame and the Orange Bowl Ring of Honor.
Following college, Burgess was the 13th player drafted in the 1st round by the NY Jets. He was selected that year as the Jets’ Rookie of the Year and to the NFL’s All-Rookie team. After being traded to the Oakland Raiders, Burgess lead the Raiders defensive squad in tackles on their way to the 1980 Super Bowl Championship.
Since retiring from the NFL, Burgess has devoted his time to mentoring and improving the lives of our next generation of leaders. He founded Second Chance 4 Youth; a Utah based non-profit organization dedicated to helping troubled an incarcerated youth. Burgess is an outspoken advocate for conservative values and intends to return Utah’s 4th Congressional District back to Republicans.
Burgess is ready to serve the people of Utah as their next Member of Congress.
Utah’s 4th District Congressman
Committee And Subcommittee Assignments:
Committee on Education and Labor
Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education*
Committee on the Judiciary
Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law
Crime Terrorism, and Homeland Security
The Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
Selected to serve on the NRCC Executive Committee
OUR GREAT NATION OF SECOND CHANCES
From NFL All-Pro to Chimney Sweep and back… to the American Middle Class
There has been no other nation throughout the history of mankind that has drawn to its shores more seeking the opportunity to start anew….their second chance. Regardless of their origination, millions have come to America with dreams to work, overcome, succeed and earn their way to a very special segment of our society…the American Middle class. Because of the tenacity and faith necessary to gain entrée, this class has within an intrinsic sense of empathy, a pull toward service, and an appreciation for God.
My upbringing in 1960’s Deep South Tallahassee was reflective of other communities throughout our country that had embraced our nations’ promise of an opportunity to join America’s Middle Class. That promise, steeped in love for God, country, family, and freedom was seen in Black communities throughout the 1940s, 50s, and ’60s. It was during these decades that these communities led our nation in the growth of its middle class, the percentage of men committed to marriage, the percentage of entrepreneurs, and men matriculating into college. As a youth in the 1960’s, I had the opportunity to witness, first hand, the pride in these achievements. Raised in a family and community that prioritized patriotism, education, work ethic, discipline, and respect I was granted, as the third Black American, a scholarship to play football at the University of Miami. I entered college with a career goal of becoming a Marine Biologist.
After 10 NFL seasons – my last earning All-Pro recognition – I left the NFL. A couple of years prior to retirement I had started a business that I was confident would give me the financial resources and business network to, within a relatively short period of time, pursue my life’s ultimate mission…. To change the downward trajectory of the once-proud community in which I had been raised.
It would take me an additional 35 years to begin that mission. During the decades of preparation, I had multiple opportunities to experience personally the blessing of starting anew. I would experience two chapters of bankruptcy to then work myself back to the Middle Class. I also joined the ranks of prostate cancer survivors and experienced a divorce after 34 years of marriage.
It was during these difficult chapters that life’s most important lessons were learned. Among them was this: As long as we’re willing to do our part, our nation has within its DNA an unlimited offering of Second Chances. Seven years after my NFL retirement and business failure I experienced a long summer during which I worked a series of jobs necessary to support my family and start my journey out of poverty. That included a day job as a chimney sweep followed by a midnight shift as a security guard. It was at the end of this long summer that I would begin a successful 25-year career in the corporate arena. The first of these positions was with a Utah-based company called WordPerfect.
My journey back into the ranks of the American Middle Class can be summarized by four key tenets… Education, Faith, Free Market, and Family.
Education: A society of Freethinking citizens has an innate ability to find solutions. Creativity, critical thinking, and vision are not only respected in such a society but also monetarily rewarded. My value as a father, friend, mentor, and leader was enhanced through the times of my greatest disappointments and failure. It was during my re-entry to the middle class that I became aware of predatory industries that specifically targeted our vulnerable poor. I had no knowledge of these Predators as an NFL player with no debt other than a house mortgage. My business failure exposed me to an environment where industries profit from poor Americans who lack choices, access, and education. These industries steal from them their savings, options, and dreams, thus ensuring that they will remain poor and vulnerable. These industries include used car dealerships that charge high prices and high-interest rates – and then collude with aggressive repo companies to tow and, within days, resell their customer’s vehicle. Another predatory industry, Paycheck Cashing, targets over 17 million poor Americans who do not have bank accounts or knowledge of how to get a federal ID needed to get one. The poor, instead, cash their weekly or bi-weekly checks with an industry that charges usury interest rates of between 300-600% APR per paycheck. These ruthless loan predators and others like them thrive in “every” Democrat-run stronghold.
Lesson Learned: America is a more prosperous, empathetic, and serving nation when there is an expanding and flourishing Middle Class. We must eliminate all predatory industries and practices that target our poor and inhibits their entrée into this Middle Class.
The federally subsidized “Higher Education” Industry is one of our nation’s most aggressive predatory institutions. This industry is unique in its lack of accountability for the systemic failure of its product (students). As they collectively receive billions in guaranteed federal subsidies, amass billions in tuitions to add to the billions in their endowment coffers they are, due to ‘industry specific’ federal legislation, protected from bankruptcy by their customers (students or parents of their students). It is an industry that is exempt from the elimination of loan debt through bankruptcy. They are instead free to release into our society graduates, many with worthless degrees, who have no knowledge of America’s free-market system, history, or culture. These are students who enter the marketplace unprepared for work requiring critical thinking skills and saddled with massive debt. They also leave these institutions of learning embracing the godless ideologies of Socialism and Marxism.
Lesson Learned: ALL Institutions of Learning, if subsidized by the US taxpayers, MUST be held “financially” accountable for the ability of their students to produce in the marketplace. Among the reforms required will be legislation stripping this industry of its exemption from debt elimination after bankruptcy.
It was during the mid-2000s Housing Boom/Bust that I, with millions of American citizens, experienced the painful lesson of getting over our skies while projecting continued growth in an unstable housing market. Our nation is now on that same “dangerously over its skies” trajectory. Our general gross debt (federal, state, and local) of over $25 trillion, represents over 125% of our GDP. It MUST be a top priority of a Republican-led Congressional House to aggressively tackle this growing and ominous threat to our nation’s future… Insolvency.
Lesson Learned: Uncontrolled and unsustainable national debt steals the vision of one generation. It simultaneously steals the freedom and dreams of the many that follow
Faith: Months after leaving our beautiful Long Island, NY home with an in-ground swimming pool on three acres, came a life-defining moment. I had moved my family of four children, under 10 years old, into a Brooklyn, NY one-bedroom basement apartment. As I stared out the road level window one night, listening to gunfire outside, there came to me a distinct thought. “I intuitively knew that this experience was for my good and that Heavenly Father wanted more for me and from me.” It was a few weeks later that a doorway opened that granted me entrée to my two-decade-long corporate career.
Empathy for others desperate for a second chance was honed in that Brooklyn basement apartment. It led, decades later, to the founding of a non-profit for “at-risk” boys and girls leaving the juvenile correction system.
Lesson learned: Because of my faith in God, I have faith in America.
Free Market: Regardless of what it is, ALL honest hard work is of great worth and value. In time it will predictably present great life lessons to the worker and others he or she will influence. My most impassioned message does not come from my NFL Championship status or success in the corporate environment. I left the NFL as a cocky, fiscal elitist, Liberal Democrat. Due to my summer-long experience as a chimney sweep, security guard, and my subsequent experiences, I am now a humbled, appreciative, fiscal Conservative Republican.
Lesson Learned: The most powerful nine words that can inspire Hope in the recipient is. …. “If I can do it …YOU can do it.
Family: The great elixir for a marriage that did not succeed is the accumulation of great memories produced in the effort. It’s seeing the results of travel, time, love, family dinners, discipline, and the high expectations by a mom and dad who placed their children’s welfare as their top priority. It’s witnessing your children’s relationships develop into BEST friend relationships, making good choices, raising loving talented children, working through their mistakes and forgiving the mistakes of their siblings and parents. It’s experiencing teary-eyed belly laughs at every family gathering watching the interactions of six totally unique and different personalities. It’s beginning a mission as a young couple and seeing it, decades later, come to fruition. That mission… ”to teach their son to be a MAN and to teach their five daughters how to recognize one.” With such fond memories and the ongoing evidence of success as a good mom and dad, through the disappointment of divorce is the inevitability of a friendship.
Cumulative Lesson Learned from Head, Heart, Hands & Home: The upside of going to Hell and back is the empathy gained for those who still remain.
There is no candidate in the State of Utah better prepared through the test of time and LIFE to represent the values, vision, heart and needs of the 4th District than I am. Utah’s 4th is positioned, like no other District in our country, to serve as a linchpin to bring our nation back to our Constitutionally stated mooring.
I hope you will support my efforts to represent you in this cause.