Russ Francis, former Super Bowl champ and KGMB sports director, dies in NY plane crash

World champion and all-pro football star Russ Francis died in a plane crash in New York over the weekend.
Published: Oct. 1, 2023 at 8:38 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 5:11 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Super Bowl champion Russ Francis, who headed up KGMB’s sports department for years, has died in a New York plane crash. He was 70 years old.

Francis, who grew up in Hawaii, was one of two identified in the crash along with Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden.

The crash happened at 4 p.m. local time Sunday.

Francis spent 13 seasons in the NFL winning a championship with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985. Following his NFL career, he returned to Hawaii — spending time in news and politics.

He’s also credited with making strides in the advancement of Polynesian athletes.

“I don’t recall a football player ever in a position to score touchdowns that did so, that threw the shaka up that really endeared himself in the Hawaii culture throughout the nation,” said Francis’ longtime friend and former NFL player Rich Miano.

“Before Tua, before Marcus Mariota, before some of these super stars, he was the guy that opened doors for us and made the country realize there are great atheletes in the state of Hawaii.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a statement in part:

Francis was selected by CNN Sports Illustrated as one of the 50 greatest sports figures in Hawaii history.

This story will be updated.