Former Pro Bowl TE Russ Francis dies in plane crash

espnOctober 2, 2023 at 11:21 AM ET1 minute read

Former Pro Bowl quarterback Ross Francis was killed in a plane crash in Lake Placid, New York, on Sunday, according to his family members. Francis was 70 years old.

Francis and Richard McSpadden, former commander of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, rolled hard to the left after taking off from Lake Placid Airport before crashing, according to an NTSB spokesman. It was not immediately clear whether Francis or McSpadden was flying the plane.

Francis was taken by the New England Patriots in the first round of the 1975 draft. He made three Pro Bowls for the team.

In 1982, he moved to the San Francisco 49ers where he won the Super Bowl in the 1984 season. Francis returned to the Patriots in 1987 before concluding his career the following season.

The Patriots released a statement on social media saying, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of former New England Patriots player Ross Francis. Our condolences go out to Francis’ family and friends.”

After retiring from football, Francis discovered his passion for aviation and recently purchased Lake Placid Airways. Federal Aviation Administration records show he was licensed to fly single- and multi-engine planes and helicopters, the Boston Globe reported.

“My older brother Ross Francis was just killed in a plane crash in Lake Placid, New York,” Francis’s brother, Ed Francis, wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “Flying has been my brother’s lifelong hobby, and probably the right way for him to go. God bless you, big brother!!”

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