Russ Francis, Super Bowl winner, dies in plane crash

Russ Francis, the standout New England Patriots tight end who went on to help the San Francisco 49ers win the Super Bowl, died Sunday in a plane crash. Francis, one of two men who reportedly died when their single-engine plane crash shortly after takeoff.

Russ Francis, Super Bowl winner, dies in plane crash

The incident occurred in Lake Placid, New York, New York State Police said (via Associated Press). The Cessna 177 carrying Francis and Richard McSpadden, 63, crashed into an embankment near a corner of the airport, police said.

According to reports, it was initially unclear who exactly was flying the plane at that moment. Francis was an avid pilot and McSpadden was a former Air Force Thunderbird commander.

The news of Russ Francis’s tragic passing

The news of Russ Francis’s tragic passing has sent shockwaves throughout the NFL community and beyond, with an outpouring of tributes and condolences pouring in from fellow players, coaches, and fans. He will be remembered not only as a legendary tight end but also as a beloved figure who made a lasting impact on the world of sports.

After excelling in several athletics at high schools in Hawaii and Oregon, Francis played football for the University of Oregon in 1972 and 1973. He briefly tried professional wrestling, following in the footsteps of his father, “Gentleman Ed” Francis. before completing his college career at Oregon State.

The Patriots selected Francis with the 16th pick in the 1975 draft, and he rewarded them with six seasons during which he was selected to three Pro Bowls, catching 196 passes for 2,996 yards and 28 touchdowns. After setting career highs in yards (664) and touchdowns (8) in 1980, Francis abruptly retired from the NFL.

Russ Francis

Following a reported contract dispute, he pursued other interests, including flying his own plane, skydiving, surfing and diving, and working at ABC Television, before returning to the NFL as a member of the 49ers. After winning its first Super Bowl, San Francisco traded several high draft picks in 1982 to New England in exchange for the rights to “a great tight end,” as then-49ers coach Bill Walsh put it.

In more than five seasons with the 49ers, Russ Francis caught 186 passes for 2,105 yards and 12 touchdowns. Following the 1984 season, he had five receptions for 60 yards in Super Bowl 19 as San Francisco defeated the Miami Dolphins, 38-16. During the 1987 season, Francis was traded back to New England, where he finished his career the following year.

The 49ers said Monday they were “saddened to learn of the tragic passing” of Francis and offered their “deepest condolences” to his family.

In retirement, Russ Francis ran a charter service in Hawaii and then became president of Lake Placid Airways, which operates charter and scenic flights in and around New York State. McSpadden was senior vice president of the Aviation Safety Institute of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Francis caught 186 passes

“Richard dedicated 20 years of his life to serving his country with the Air Force, including command of the Thunderbirds from 2002-2004,” the Air Demonstration Squadron said in a statement about McSpadden. “He continued to serve and inspire after his military career, leading the way to advance the aviation security industry. Russ Francis impact has been felt around the world and his legacy will live on! Our thoughts are with Richard, his family and his friends during this time. ,

The National Traffic Safety Council is investigating Sunday’s accident.

Kate Naiman, the mother of son Francis, said Sunday night on Facebook that “flying was like breathing” for the former tight end.

“It came naturally and he lived for it,” she wrote. “He used to fly his P-51 Mustang to practice and land in the stadium parking lot and he really freaked out Bill Walsh. There will be some comfort in knowing that he died doing what he loved most, but not today. Not today.”

Russ Francis’s contributions to the game of football and his enduring spirit will forever be etched in the annals of sports history. He leaves behind a legacy that transcends the gridiron, touching the hearts of fans and athletes alike.

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