CARD: Upper Deck Legends 1997
ACQUIRED: TTM 2022, C/o Home
SENT: 1/3 RECEIVED: 3/23 (59 days)
- Russ Francis was a three year starter at TE for the Oregon Ducks.
- It was really in his Junior year in 1974 he put up some outstanding numbers, catching 31 passes for 495 yards and 4 TDs.
- A monster prospect, clocking in at 6’6″, 245, Russ not only had the hands, he had the size as well.
- Russ was a slam dunk first round pick of the New England Patriots in 1975, taken 16th overall.
- Russ chewed up the scenery his rookie year with the Pats, with 35 catches for 636 yards and 4 TDs.
- In 1980, Russ had a career high 664 yards and 8 TDs on 41 receptions.
- After the Patriots refused to give Russ a bonus for his Pro Bowl appearance, combined with how the team treated teammate Daryl Stingley after his paralization, Francis opted to retire.
- Russ became a broadcaster briefly with ABC Sports, but after having a conversation with 49ers Bill Walsh, decided to come out of retirement in ’82.
- Russ joined the ‘9ers, through a trade, just in time to help them build their dynasty, and helping the team win Super Bowl XIX in 1984.
- He’d post a career high 44 receptions in 1985.
- Russ played 7 games with the ‘9ers in 1987, before returning back to the Patriots.
- He played one more year with New England in ’88, spending the entire ’89 campaign on IR, retiring soon thereafter.
- Russ has had a robust life since retirement, participating in Wrestlemania II, dabbling in politics, hosting radio, and outdoor shows.
- Pro Bowl 1976-’78
- Polynesian Sports Hall of Fame (Contributor)
- NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship (1978)
- Wrestlemania II
I really, really wanted Russ to be my first response of 2022, but he ended up responding a few months later. Still, a great response from Russ, who put a lot of inscriptions on the card. He also wrote a nice note saying that he, “Had a great time in Wrestlemania II!”
Russ has two nicknames. He was dubbed ‘All-Universe’ because he could do it all when he came into the NFL. His second, ‘All-World Tight End’ was given to him by Howard Cosell during a MNF contest.
I think Russ deserved this card as a legend, and a lot more credit than he gets. A prolific receiver during the dead ball era, if not for an injury and retiring suddenly, he easily could’ve topped out over 6k yards. Nothing to sneeze at when 5 seasons were during the infamous dead ball era.
Russ appears on the original Tecmo Super Bowl as a member of the San Fransisco 49ers. He is notable as he is the receiver for a play that can not be defended against that if you time the pass right, catches the ball on every throw, even under heavy blitz.
10/1/23- Russ had recently completed the purchase of the Lake Placid Airways Scenic Tours Business. He was on in a single engine Cessna 177 Cardinal with the SVP of the Pilot’s Association, when the plane started experiencing engine trouble after take off. The plane was unable to return to the runway. -Francis was just 70 years old.