Ex-Patriots Pro Bowl TE Russ Francis Dies In Plane Crash

Former New England Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Russ Francis, along with another man, were killed Sunday when the small plane they were flying in crashed in Lake Placid.

Francis was 70 years old.

The crash, according to police, occurred a few minutes after 4 PM near Lake Placid Airport in New York.

The plane was a Cessna 177 Cardinal … a light, single-engine aircraft that was first introduced in the late ’60s. The Cessna “experienced an emergency after takeoff” and “attempted to return to the airport but failed to make the runway,” according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

Russ Francis,

The second passenger who died alongside Francis was Richard McSpadden, a Senior Vice President for the AOPA. McSpadden was a very accomplished pilot, commanding the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds during his military career.

It’s unclear if Francis, also a pilot, or McSpadden were flying at the time of the crash.

On the football field, Francis was one of the best at his position.

Russ Francis

Russ was drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots after starring at Oregon. He played 13 total seasons with the Pats and San Francisco 49ers, making 3 Pro Bowls and 2 All-Pro teams. Francis played in 167 games, catching 393 balls for 5,262 yards and 40 yards.

The Patriots released a statement on Francis’ death.

“On behalf of the entire New England Patriots organization, we extend our sincerest sympathies to the family of Russ Francis, who tragically passed away yesterday,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in a prepared statement.


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