Former Patriots, 49ers tight end Russ Francis dies in plane crash

Former New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers tight end Russ Francis has died.

He was killed in a plane crash in Lake Placid on Sunday.

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The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that a plane crashed after 4 p.m. at the end of a runway at the Lake Placid Airport.

Richard McSpadden, the senior vice president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, was also killed in the crash.

The two had been on a Cessna 177 Cardinal that “experienced an emergency after takeoff,” the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said, according to the Daily Enterprise. They had tried to return to the airport but were unable.

The Patriots confirmed Francis’ death, saying that he “tragically passed away” over the weekend, WFXT reported.

He had been drafted by New England in the first round out of Oregon in the 1975 draft.

“On behalf of the entire New England Patriots organization, we extend our sincerest sympathies to the family of Russ Francis, who tragically passed away yesterday,” Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement posted on social media.

“Russ was a fan favorite throughout his playing career. He was a dynamic player on the field who had an even bigger personality off it. He knew no boundaries, pushed the limits, and lived his life to the fullest. Our thoughts are with Russ’s family, friends, teammates, and the many Patriots fans who mourn his loss.”

Francis was traded to San Francisco in 1982 and was a member of the 49ers when they won the Super Bowl in 1984. He returned to the Patriots in 1987, retiring in 1988 with a total of 393 receptions for 5,262 yards and 40 touchdowns, WFXT reported.

The crash is under investigation.

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