SaberCats return to practice with heavy hearts

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SaberCats return to practice with heavy hearts

Wednesday morning the San Jose SaberCats returned to the practice field for the first time since the death of fullback Johnie Kirton. The session was closed to the media. Afterward, the team, on the advice of grief counselors, opted not to make players available for interviews. A handful of them did acknowledge me as they left the practice field and it took nothing more than the simple glances to see that they are all still shocked by Kirton's tragic passing.

Head Coach Darren Arbet did address the media in a more formal fashion, but he too is at a loss for wrapping his head around the death of a player. "There's a pit in the bottom of your stomach," Arbet said. "It's really tough on the guys and the coaching staff. We've grown close to him the last three weeks and he had a great personality and work ethic."
NEWS: SaberCats announce death of Johnie Kirton

Arbet all but put to rest the speculation Kirton's death could have been a suicide or in some way tied to concussions. "As far as we understand, natural causes is what they're telling us," Arbet said. "That's all we know right now." And probably all anyone will know until the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office issues an official report.

The SaberCats first learned of Kirton's passing Monday night when his body was discovered in his room at the hotel the team uses to house players who are still settling into the San Jose area. Kirton was acquired in a trade with Arizona on May 9 to fill the void left when Tommy Taggart was placed on IR.

Quarterback Mark Grieb told the San Jose Mercury News Kirton's body was discovered by a SaberCats teammate who had been asked to check on him by his girlfriend when she was unsuccessful reaching the player.

Coach Arbet is well aware the impact of such a discovery could have profound effects on both that player and his entire team, "We had counselors come in and talk with everyone yesterday, to kinda help us through that first day." As for resuming football activities today, Arbet says that was a welcome distraction, "Going out there and coaching got my mind going somewhere else and I feel a little better now." He added, "The players worked hard today. I think it's a good thing to get them out on he field and get it off their mind."

The team plans to honor Kirton by placing stickers with his No. 37 on their helmets this weekend when it plays at Milwaukee. Arbet added that this is the first of what he expects to be a number of tributes the team will make towards the fallen teammate. Another will be attending Kirton's funeral, "whenever and wherever it takes place." As of now, no funeral arrangements have been made.

Going forward, Arbet says he's not as worried about his football team as he is for those who knew Kirton best, "You're never prepared for anything like this. This is as tough as it gets but we have a lot of support here from ownership on down. We just feel for his family and friends."

AFL announces SaberCats ownership pulling out of league

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AFL announces SaberCats ownership pulling out of league

LAS VEGAS -– Arena Football League Commissioner Scott Butera announced today that, for reasons unrelated to League operations, the owners of the San Jose Sabercats have notified him that they will no longer continue as members of the AFL.

Butera said that the League is working to secure a new long-term owner for the storied franchise, which played its first Arena game in 1995. He also extended the AFL’s deep appreciation to the SaberCats ownership group for all the contributions they have made to Arena Football.

“We have a remarkably loyal fan base in the San Jose area and we are working aggressively to secure new ownership for the franchise as soon as possible,” Butera said. “In the process of rebuilding, there is an evolution that brings change and growth. In the coming months, we will reveal a strategic growth plan for the AFL, including completion of agreements with a number of expansion opportunities.”

AFL media services 

SaberCats return 2012 leading receiver Samora Goodson

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SaberCats return 2012 leading receiver Samora Goodson

SAN JOSE -- The SaberCats announced today that they have been assigned 2012s leading wide receiver Samora Goodson on a two-year contract. Goodson had a breakout season last year, his third in San Jose. The Arena Football Leagues free agency period for exclusive negotiations with players from a teams 2012 roster opened on Monday, Oct. 15 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 4.

"Bringing our leading receiver back from a year ago certainly bolsters our receiving corps," OwnerHead Coach Darren Arbet stated regarding the addition. "Samora is a very talented, proven receiver who has exhibited big-play ability at this level.

Goodson (6-3, 205, SE Missouri State) appeared in all 18 games for the SaberCats in 2012, where he led the team in all receiving statistical categories but touchdowns. He caught a career-high 114 passes for 1,471 yards and 27 scores as he paced a deep stable of SaberCats receivers on the way to a 12-6 season and playoff berth. Goodson also proved his worth on special teams, as he recorded 12 total tackles (ten solo) on kickoff coverage.

The Hayward, Calif. native appeared in seven games for San Jose in 2011, after his season was cut short due to injury. He posted 46 receptions for 630 yards and 12 touchdowns in the teams first season back since 2008. Goodson was a member of the SaberCats practice squad in the 2008 regular season and made the postseason roster in a year that saw San Jose fall in ArenaBowl XXII to the Philadelphia Soul. In between these two stints, Goodson played for the San Jose Wolves of the AIFA (Arena Football Indoor Association) in 2010.

Prior to his professional career the Californian played two seasons at Southeast Missouri State, where he tallied 37 receptions for 439 yards and four touchdowns in 22 appearances for the Redhawks. He transferred to Southeast Missouri State from Citrus Community College (Glendora, Calif.), where he earned All-Western State Conference and all-state honors.

Transaction: SaberCats are assigned WR Samora Goodson on a two-year contract.

Courtesy San Jose SaberCats media services