Kirton wearing a Rush uniform in 2011

The Arena Football league is in mourning after one of it’s players passed away on Tuesday. Fullback/Linebacker Johnie Kirton was found dead in the hotel room he had been staying in while playing for the San Jose SaberCats this season. He was found by one of his San Jose teammates according to SaberCats Quarterback Mark Grieb. The team was asked to do a well being check on Kirton when his girlfriend said she was unable to get a hold of him on Monday night.

The cause of death remains unknown and the case is under investigation. Kirton began his career with the Arizona Rattlers in 2010. He was signed coming straight out of college. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2009 but was not selected in the NFL Draft. After his rookie season in Arizona, the 290 pounder joined the Chicago Rush for the 2011 campaign. While here he was coached by legendary Rush Fullback {and current Head Coach} Bob McMillen.

When the Rush brought in J.J. Payne this year, Kirton went back to Arizona. He played 2 games for the Rattlers before being traded to San Jose in May. Kirton is survived by his family which includes a 2 year old daughter, Johnie Kirton was only 26 years old. So far the only person from the Rush to comment on the matter is Wide Receiver Reggie Gray who said this:

“Heart is heavy after the news of former teammate/brother/friend Johnie Kirton passing away. Please pray for his family and his baby girl that he loved so much. To just play against him on saturday and this happenning now is unbelievable. Life is short and seems unfair. R.I.P J.K. a great person”

When the Rush host Spokane on Sunday, I’ll be there in person. And I will see what other members of the Rush have to say about Johnie Kirton. From my personal perspective, Kirton was more than qualified to play in the NFL. He was the size of an offensive lineman but had the speed of a running back. But beyond football he was respected by every coach and teammate that he ever had.

He was also great in the community with his charity work, and he was a devoted family man. May he rest in peace, and I pray that he is in a better place. We here at Q101 send our condolences to Johnie and his family, friends, teammates, and coaches as they endure this hardship. Our prayers are with you…….

You can follow me on Twitter: @GabeSalgado82 Hashtag: #Q101Sports


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