Former New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers tight end Russ Francis was reportedly killed in a plane crash in upstate New York on Sunday, multiple outlets reported.
Francis, an avid pilot, crashed shortly after 4:00 p.m. Sunday at Lake Placid Airport, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
He was flying with Richard McSpadden, senior vice president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, per the Enterprise.
The pair were killed when their Cessna 177 Cardinal was attempting to return to the Lake Placid Airport following an emergency which occurred shortly after takeoff, according to USA Today. (RELATED: NFL Team Releases Star After Wild Week, Arrest)
The Patriots confirmed his death with a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of former New England Patriots tight end Russ Francis,” the team posted to Twitter. “Our condolences are extended to Francis’ family and friends.”
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 spent the first six years of his career in New England before briefly retiring for a year when he was 27. He came back to play six more seasons with the San Francisco, where he won Super Bowl XIX in 1985. He then returned to New England to spend the final year of his career as a Patriot.
The 70-year-old former NFL star “grew up wanting to fly, and he spent his life in the sky,” according to the Enterprise.