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San Jose SaberCats player Johnie Kirton found dead

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Johnie Kirton

Johnie Kirton, a fullback with the Arena Football League’s San Jose SaberCats, died at age 26, the team announced Tuesday.

The team said Kirton died Monday in Santa Clara. A cause of death wasn’t given. The San Jose Mercury News reported Kirton was found dead in a hotel room and there were no immediate signs of foul play.

“It is with great shock and sadness that we confirm that Johnie Kirton has passed away,” owner-coach Darren Arbet said in a statement. “He was such a great kid, and in the short time he was in San Jose he was such a valued member of our organization’s family. Johnie was a great team guy and hard-nosed player, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Johnie’s family in this difficult time.”

Kirton, who played his college football at Washington, scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner, in San Jose’s thrilling 84-77 victory against the Chicago Rush on Saturday.

SaberCats players will honor Kirton’s memory by wearing stickers on their helmets with his No. 37 during Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Mustangs.

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