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Coaches

Pepper Johnson
Linebackers Coach
College:
Ohio State
Hometown:
Detroit, MI
Experience:
27

Biography

Pepper Johnson is enjoying his 27th season in the NFL, including his 14th season on Bill Belichick's coaching staff. Johnson has been a part of five Super Bowl championship teams, earning a pair of rings during his illustrious 13-year playing career and also contributing to three championship teams as a Patriots assistant coach. All five of his championship rings have been earned while teamed with Coach Belichick.
COACHING
Pepper Johnson is enjoying his 27th season in the NFL, including his 14th season on Bill Belichick's coaching staff. Johnson has been a part of five Super Bowl championship teams, earning a pair of rings during his illustrious 13-year playing career and also contributing to three championship teams as a Patriots assistant coach. All five of his championship rings have been earned while teamed with Coach Belichick.

In 2012, Johnson returned to coaching the Patriots linebackers. Under his tutelage, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes finished as the top two tacklers on the team. It was the first season since 2009 that the team's top-two tacklers emerged from the same position. Johnson previously coached the inside linebackers from 2001-03 followed by eight seasons mentoring the defensive line. He began his coaching career with New England in 2000 as assistant linebackers coach.

In Johnson's 13 seasons on the Patriots defensive coaching staff, New England has finished in the top 10 in fewest points allowed per game nine times.

Johnson originally joined Coach Belichick's staff as part of the NFL's summer coaching fellowship in the summer of 2000. He spent the season with the Patriots as a defensive assistant, working primarily with the linebackers. In 2001, he joined the staff as the inside linebackers coach, the same position at which he excelled for 13 NFL seasons. After injuries sidelined Ted Johnson and Bryan Cox in 2001, Bruschi made the transition from outside to inside linebacker and helped fuel the Patriots defense through a season-ending win streak that culminated with a Super Bowl title. In 2002, linebackers Roman Phifer and Ted Johnson finished first and second in tackles with 109 and 96 tackles, respectively. It was the first time two linebackers led the Patriots in tackles since 1994.

PLAYING
Johnson started 158-of-193 regular season games and played for four different teams during his 13-year NFL career from 1986-98. The two-time Pro Bowl performer won Super Bowl titles as a member of the New York Giants in 1986 and again in 1990. His presence helped form one of the most dominant defensive units in the history of the game. In 13 seasons, he totaled over 1,200 tackles, leading his team in tackles six different times. He also notched 25 ½ sacks, forced 12 fumbles, recovering eight, and intercepted 14 passes, including two that he returned for touchdowns. In a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1991, he set a Giants record with 4 ½ sacks. He played seven seasons with the Giants (1986-92) before joining the Cleveland Browns in 1993. In 1994, he recorded a career-high with 207 tackles for the Browns. Johnson was a team captain in Cleveland for two seasons in 1994 and 1995. He signed with the Detroit Lions for one season in 1996 and was second on the team in tackles before being reunited with Bill Belichick in New York when he signed with the Jets in 1997. He played two seasons with the Jets before retiring in 1999. In his first season with the Jets, he was voted team captain before the start of the regular season. A midseason injury vs. New England (10/19/97) sidelined him for the remainder of the season, but he returned as team captain and started every game for the Jets in 1998 and finished second on the team in tackles. Prior to his injury, he had not missed a game or a practice in 11-plus NFL seasons.

A two-time co-captain and defensive MVP at Ohio State, Johnson was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round of the 1986 NFL Draft after an All-American campaign as a senior for the Buckeyes in 1985.

PERSONAL
Thomas "Pepper" Johnson was born July 29, 1964 in Detroit, Mich. He was nicknamed "Pepper" by an aunt who observed his ritual of sprinkling pepper on his breakfast cereal as a youngster. After an all-star prep career at MacKenzie High in Detroit, Johnson was named to Michigan's all-decade team for the 1980s. Johnson became a scholar-athlete at Ohio State, where he majored in counseling and physical education. In 1999, his alma mater named him to the school's all-century team. In 2001, he was inducted into the Ohio State Hall of Fame. He formed Pepper Johnson Enterprises, a non-profit community organization that operates in Detroit to support youth and anti-crime programs. Johnson's many philanthropic endeavors have earned him honors for his work with Special Olympics, the March of Dimes, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Children's Leukemia Foundation and Pepper Johnson's Youth Foundation. He is also a supporter of the Michael Landon Foundation, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Dylan MalaMala Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Trey Whitfield Foundation. While in New York, he sponsored a charity golf tournament on Long Island to benefit a home for babies born to drug-addicted mothers. Johnson has a son, Dionte, and a daughter, Aanjeya.

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