Russ Francis Death: Russell Ross Francis (April 3, 1953 – October 1, 2023) was an American former professional football player known for his remarkable career as a tight end in the National Football League (NFL).
He dedicated thirteen seasons of his life to the sport, showcasing his exceptional skills while playing for both the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers.
Throughout his illustrious NFL journey, Francis amassed impressive statistics, concluding his career with a total of 393 receptions, 5,262 receiving yards, and 40 touchdowns.
In recognition of his remarkable contributions to the world of sports, Francis was rightfully inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993, a well-deserved honor that celebrated his lasting impact on the game.
Unfortunately, on October 1, 2023, the sports world and fans around the nation were deeply saddened by the tragic news of the passing of former Super Bowl champion Russ Francis.
His remarkable career and contributions extended beyond the football field, as he also served as a prominent figure in KGMB’s sports department for many years.
He leaves behind a lasting legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. Francis was 70 years old at the time of his passing.
Russ Francis Death And Obituary
Russ Francis death has shocked the entire football community. Francis, the former Super Bowl champion and longtime head of KGMB’s sports department, tragically lost his life at 70 in a plane crash in Lake Placid, New York, on October 1, 2023.
He was one of two individuals identified in the accident, alongside Richard McSpadden, Senior Vice President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
The incident occurred at 4 p.m. local time on that fateful Sunday when Francis and McSpadden were flying a Cessna 177 out of Lake Placid Airport.
Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft encountered an emergency situation.
Despite their attempts to return to the airport, the plane ultimately crashed in a ravine near the facility, resulting in the tragic loss of both Francis and McSpadden.
Beginning Of Football Career
Russ Francis had a remarkable journey from his high school days to his professional football career:
He started high school at Kailua High School in Oahu, Hawaii, but later completed his high school education at Pleasant Hill High School in Oregon, situated to the southeast of Eugene.
During his senior year in 1971, he achieved a remarkable feat by setting the national high school record for the javelin with a throw of 259 ft 9 in (79.17 m).
This record remained unbroken until 1988. In addition to his prowess in the javelin, Francis was also a decathlete during his time at Pleasant Hill.
Upon his enrollment at the University of Oregon in Eugene, standing at an impressive 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), Francis continued his involvement in track and field by competing in the javelin.
However, his varsity football career at the university was relatively short, consisting of only 14 games for the Ducks.
He faced an injury setback after three games during his sophomore year in 1972 but returned to the field in 1973. Unfortunately, he had to sit out his senior season in 1974.
To maintain his eligibility for the 1975 NFL Draft, Russ Francis decided to continue his collegiate journey at rival Oregon State University in Corvallis.
In an interesting twist, he also briefly explored a career in professional wrestling.
Furthermore, he trained for the popular Superstars competition. Ultimately, he was chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, being selected as the 16th overall pick.
He signed with the Patriots in May, officially launching his professional football career.
Post Football Career
After concluding his football career, he transitioned into hosting a radio show titled “Forever West Outdoors” on KODI 1400-AM.
In this role, Francis shared a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of Wyoming, its mountains, and the land, emphasizing how fortunate he and others were to have such natural wonders at their fingertips.
This transition to radio was characteristic of Francis, a multifaceted individual.
He had called various places home, but rather than indicating rootlessness, it was more like an oak tree spreading its roots, with connections to Hawaii, Oregon, New England, San Francisco, and Montana.
Ultimately, Francis found his anchor in Wyoming.
He was known for his curiosity, evident in his gentle probing of studio guests about their passions.
Before his radio career, he also ventured into TV work for ABC and ESPN and even hosted a four-hour talk show in Concord, New Hampshire.
Francis’s journey into sports began with surfing and then expanded to activities like snorkeling, spearfishing, horseback riding, pheasant and pig hunting, and even some unplanned swimming.
His family’s connection to wrestling, with his father being a wrestling promoter for Hawaii and Japan, inevitably led him to try wrestling.
In high school, while living in Oregon, he took up football and held the national high school javelin record for 17 years.
Although he played only one healthy college football season, his raw talent and diverse interests defined his remarkable life journey. His recent passing has left a void in the world of sports and broadcasting, but his legacy continues to inspire those who knew him.
Was Russ Francis Married?
Russ tried marriage for a time, at 40, and parenthood. He has a 27-year-old son in Nebraska.