Former Super Bowl Champion Russ Francis Dead At 70
By Jason Halll
October 2, 2023
Former Super Bowl champion tight end Russ Francis died at the age of 70 following a plane crash in Lake Placid on Sunday (October 1).
Francis had recently purchased the Lake Placid Airport and was flying with Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden, who was identified as the other person killed in the crash, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports. The accident took place at the end of a runway at around 4:05 p.m. and resulted in several first responders and agencies responding to the scene including Lake Placid emergency services, New York State Police, Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers.
Francis was selected by the New England Patriots at No. 16 overall in the 1975 NFL Draft despite having only planed 14 collegiate games at the University of Oregon, where he also threw the javelin. The Seattle native was a two-time second-team All-Pro in 1976 and 1978, as well as a Pro Bowl selection for three consecutive seasons from 1977 to 1979.
Francis briefly retired in 1980, working for ABC Sports, before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers and joining the team in 1982, recording five receptions for 60 yards during the Niners' win over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX in 1985. The tight end returned to the Patriots in 1987 and spent his final three NFL seasons with the franchise.