Russ Francis has passed away at age 70. The former NFL player and wrestler died in a plane crash on September 30th. The news of Russ’ passing was confirmed by his brother Ed Francis via a Facebook post. He shared about the details of Russ’ passing in a heartfelt post.
The Hawai native who graduated from Kailua High School went on to play for England Patriots for five years before temporarily retiring in 1981. He then switched to San Francisco 49ers from 1982 to 1986, leading his team to a Superbowl win.
He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. The Lake Placid Airways scenic tour business owner was on a Cessna 177 Cardinal alongside Richard McSpadden, the senior vice president of the AOPA Air Safety Institute.
According to Ringside News and a report by The Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the two couldn’t make it in time as shortly after takeoff from Lake Placid Airport in upstate New York, the aircraft experienced an “emergency” at around 4 p.m. on Sunday. They couldn’t make it back to the runway in time, and according to the authorities the two have died. While the cause of the concern that happened remains unclear, the wrestling world is shocked with his untimely death.
Russ and his father held the NWA Big Times Tag Team Championship, but they lost it to John Studd and Buddy Rogers. His father Ed had an active career in Hawaii, and eventually sold his territory to Peter Maivia.
Russ challenged Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World Championship during his time with the AWA. He also made appearances in Canada’s Northwest Promotions. He was also a part of the WWF Wrestlemania 2 Battle Royal in Chicago, ultimately won by Andre The Giant in 1986 where his fellow NFL players were also participating.
We send our condolences to the family and friends of football legend Russ Francis, who tragically passed away in a plane crash yesterday at the age of 70. Francis had ties to wrestling, most notably along with other NFL players participated in the Battle Royal at WrestleMania 2. pic.twitter.com/94StBV2xsf
— CauliflowerAlleyClub (@CACReunion) October 2, 2023
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