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Team History

WHEN IT STARTED: October 26, 1994. That’s the day the Arena Football League approved the city of San Jose’s application for an expansion franchise to begin play in 1995. San Jose became the fifth AFL expansion team for the 1995 season, along with St. Louis, Memphis, Hartford and Des Moines, Iowa. The expansion of the league by five teams is the largest expansion of an American professional sports league since the National Hockey League added six teams in 1967.

Jerry Rice handles the coin toss prior to the SaberCats first ever regular season game.

THE NAME: The name SaberCats portrays a vivid image of strength, power and destruction. In prehistoric times, the Sabertooth Cat (known as “Smilodon Californicus” to archaeologists) was widely found throughout Europe and the United States with the largest concentration believed to inhabit what is now California. The ancient prehistoric cat was a formidable hunter that was rendered extinct by the massive ice flows that covered much of the earth during the “Ice Age” more than 2,000,000 years ago. The United States is home to the largest collection of fossilized dinosaur bones found in the world, with the largest number of Sabertooth Cat fossils found in Southern California’s La Brea Tar Pits. In fact, due to the enormous number of fossils unearthed, the Sabertooth Cat has been adopted as California’s official state fossil. The classic Sabertooth Cat was a fierce predator whose whole body was powerfully built to make it a very efficient carnivore. The muscles of its shoulder and neck were arranged to produce a powerful downward lunge of its massive head. The jaw opened to an angle of 120 degrees to allow the huge pair of saber teeth in its upper jaws to be driven into the victim. The SaberCats’ teeth inflicted deep wounds in its prey, causing the victim to slowly bleed to death. The sabers, or teeth, were oval in cross-section to retain strength, but also to ensure minimal resistance as they were sunk into its prey, They were also serrated. like steak knives, along their rear edges to pierce the victim’s flesh more easily.

The 1995 SaberCats are introduced to the fans.

THE PLAYERS: He will forever be the answer to a SaberCats’ trivia question. Who was the first official player in San Jose history? That distinction goes to Jeff Mayes, a wide receiver/linebacker from Vanderbilt University, who was San Jose’s first selection (4th overall) in the 1994 AFL Expansion Draft. Other notables in the draft included WR/DB Amod Field (2nd round), WR/LB Anthony Howard (5th round), WR/DB Chris Barber (6th round) and OL/DL Alo Sila (7th round). The roster of players assembled by Director of Football Operations Terry Malley and Head Coach Todd Shell finished its inaugural season with a record of 8-4 and became the first team in professional sports history to capture a division championship as an expansion team.