The New England Patriots have released an official statement following the tragic death of former Pro Bowl tight end Russ Francis on Sunday. Francis was 70.
Francis and Richard McSpadden, a former commander of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, rolled hard to the left after takeoff from Lake Placid Airport before crashing, according to an NTSB spokesperson and via ESPN. It was not clear whether Francis or McSpadden was flying the plane.
The Patriots released an official statement on the team's social media account.
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) October 2, 2023
Francis was selected by the Patriots in the 1975 NFL Draft and was named to the All-Rookie team that season. Francis went on to appear in three Pro Bowls for the Patriots, and later won a Super Bowl in 1984 with the San Francisco 49ers.
Francis played a key role in the 1984 Super Bowl, hauling in 5 receptions for 60 yards in San Francisco's win over the Miami Dolphins.
Francis played for 14 seasons in the NFL, spending eight with the Patriots and six with the 49ers. Francis retired in 1988, finishing his NFL career with 393 receptions for 5,262 yards and 40 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
Francis lived a busy life after football, becoming a professional wrestler and appearing in a battle royal at Wrestlemania 2 while also running for congress in Hawaii.
Russ Francis's brother, Ed, wrote on Facebook on Sunday following his brother's death in the tragic crash, via ESPN.
“My older brother Russ Francis was just killed in an airplane crash in Lake Placid, New York,” Ed Francis wrote. “Flying was my brother's lifelong passion, and perhaps a fitting way for him to go. God speed to you my big brother!!”