Russ Francis, a former college football and NFL star who began his high school career at Kailua, died in a plane crash on Sunday, according to the Lake Placid News. He was 70.
Francis and the other person on board, Richard McSpadden, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Senior Vice President, were killed when the airplane they were on crashed at the end of a runway in Lake Placid, N.Y., at 4:09 p.m. EST.
Francis finished his high school career at Pleasant Hill High School in Oregon, then went on to play for the University of Oregon.
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Francis was selected in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and went on to become a Super Bowl champion, two-time All Pro and three-time Pro Bowler.
After his playing days were over, Francis also spent time as a local and national sportscaster and became a member of the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
Francis’ brother, Ed, also confirmed the news on his personal Facebook account.
“I’m not sure there’s anybody bigger during that decade or more that he played football, and that was when guys like myself, Jesse Sapolu, Mark Tuinei, we were all trying to get to the National Football League or when we started our careers,” Rich Miano told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello on Sunday. “Monday Night Football, I mean, ‘All world,’ Howard Cosell, it didn’t get any bigger than Russ Francis.
“This guy was a superstar before Tua (Tagoailoa), before Marcus (Mariota), and really put Hawaii on the map and the double shakas and everything that he kind of associated with, the Polynesian Bowl induction to the Hall of Fame. He was Hawaii football. He had that appreciation, that love that for Hawaii. That to me is so special. And that’s why I think people of Hawaii are going to mourn this and appreciate the life of Russ Francis.”