Former Super Bowl champion Russ Francis has died in a plane crash. The police confirmed this, according to the AP news agency.
The 70-year-old, who played for the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers and was one of the best tight ends in the National Football League (NFL) at the time, flew from Lake Placid Airport in a small plane with another man on Sunday. But shortly after takeoff, the plane ran into difficulties and crashed into an embankment near the airport, according to the New York State Police. It is still unclear whether Francis, a pilot for almost 50 years, was piloting the Cessna. The fellow inmate also died. Investigations into the cause of the accident are ongoing.
We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of former New England Patriots tight end Russ Francis. Our condolences are extended to Francis’ family and friends. pic.twitter.com/sgrrPZ5Ui4
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) 2. October 2023
Francis, who had three Pro Bowl and two All-Pro selections in his career, played with the Patriots from 1975 to 1980. He then moved to San Francisco, where he played alongside quarterback icon Joe Montana and won the Super Bowl in 1985. With five catches for 60 yards, Francis played a decisive role in the 38:16 triumph against the Miami Dolphins. In total, Francis was active in the NFL for 13 seasons and scored 40 touchdowns in his career.
“Russ has been a fan favorite throughout his playing career. “He was a dynamic player on the field who had an even bigger personality off the field,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. The 49ers also expressed their dismay and condoled with the family.