Tuesday, October 3, 2023

RIP Russ Francis

I haven't cared a lick about the New England Patriots throughout the Tom Brady era, or even before that during the Drew Bledsoe one. It could be that I've always held a bit of a grudge for the team's design decision to forego the classic red uniforms with the ball-snapping patriot on the helmet for their hideous blue and silver look with some misguided futuristic-looking patriot on the helmet.

Regardless, I rememeber fondly looking forward as a little kid to the rare times the team would appear on Monday Night Football or another TV game of the week. Those uniforms seemed to enhance the abilities of already-great stars like quarterback Steve Grogan, running back Sam "The Bam" Cunningham, and arguably the greatest tight end during the era he played (1975-1988), Russ Francis.

Francis died in a plane crash this week in Lake Placid, New York at age 70. Growing up in Hawaii, Francis set a national record in high school in the javelin. Once settling on football as his primary sport, he became known as one of the first tight ends to be used as a primary receiver, helping change the way tight ends were used in the NFL.

After his years with the Pats, he went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers, winning one Super Bowl, then owning several businesses and even becoming a professional wrestler with the American Wrestling Association and National Wrestling Alliance.

And along with those TV games, I probably still have about 15 of this card. Something always to remind me of Russ. 

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