In much the same style that characterized his 13-year National Football League career, Redskin safety Brig Owens formally announced his retirement yesterday.

There was an absence of complaint, just as there had been when Owens lost his starting job to Bryant Salter in 1974, and when he was cut by the team and then brought back in a space of five days last season.

There were no tears at Redskin Park yesterday. No hoopla. Just a graceful announcement.

"I have had the privilege," said Owens, "of playing in the NFL for 13 years. And I feel it's time to pursue another professional career.

"I don't think anyone can just walk away from the love of their life and not miss it."

In each of his 12 seasons with the Redskins, it seemed that management was searching for a player who could bump Owens off the roster.

The likable, competitive Owens always took the pressure in stride and held his job until Salter finally benched him.

Then, in a surprise move five days before the first game last year, Owens and his roommate of 10 years, tight end Jerry Smith, were put on waivers to make room on the roster for younger players Bill Larson and Mike Murphy.

Owens had reasons to be bitter because of the suddeness of being cut. Predictably, he wasn't.

Owens cleared waivers and the next week, after the Redskins lost to the New York Giants, he was back with the team, which had missed his leadership. He played in four games as a reserve defensive back and spent the rest of the season on the taxi squad.

When the season ended, Owen, then 34, would not return for another season.

He will miss football, he said yesterday but added "I look forward to spending more time with my family and the personal things in life I enjoy doing."

Owens presently is attending Potomac School of Law and will continue as the assistant to the executive director of the NFL Players Association.

Owens was not big, fast of flashy, just efficient.

A quarterback at the University of Cincinnati, Owens was a seventh-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 1965. He was traded to the Redskins in 1966 and the 6-foot, 190-pounder went on to play in 154 consecutive games. His 36 interceptions make him the all-time Redskin leader in that category.

"Speaking as a former teamate, I could have no greater respect for a person and his family than I do for Brig and his family," said Redskin Coach Jack Pardee. "We need more people like Brig to be a part of this team."

Owens is the fourth Redskin veteran to announce his retirement since the 1977 season ended.

Cornerback Pat Fischer, Smith and wide receiver Charley Taylor retired earlier.