Former NFL Pro Bowler Killed in Plane Crash

Russ Francis was a star for the Patriots and 49ers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2023 7:13 PM CDT
Former NFL Pro Bowler Killed in Plane Crash
Russ Francis, in an image from video.   (YouTube/CBS Boston)

A familiar name from the football field in the 1970s and '80s has died in a plane crash. Russ Francis, 70, was one of two people killed Sunday in the crash of a small plane at Lake Placid Airport in New York state, reports the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Francis played tight end for the New England Patriots after being selected in the first round of the 1975 draft before joining the San Francisco 49ers from 1982 to 1987, per ESPN. He then finished out his football career with the Patriots the following season.

After football, Francis pursued his love of aviation and eventually bought the Lake Placid Airways tour business. The cause of the crash was under investigation, with authorities saying the plane was attempting to return to the airport after an unspecified emergency during takeoff, per NBC News. It wasn't clear whether Francis or the other person aboard, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association senior vice president Richard McSpadden, was at the controls. In his football days, Francis played in three Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with the 49ers. The Patriots paid homage in a tweet. (Read more obituary stories.)

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