It has been an interesting year for Pepper Johnson to say the least.
The former New York Giants and New York Jets linebacker was hired as a defensive line coach by the Memphis Express (whose head coach was Mike Singletary) of the Alliance of American Football. Memphis had a record of 2-6 when the AAF shut down with two regular season games remaining on the schedule. The league filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy two weeks later.
Johnson moved on to the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. This assignment would only last one game as Johnson was fired after the Wildcats lost their inaugural game to the Houston Roughnecks, 37-17.
“We recognize that there are issues we need to address for the 2020 season,” Wildcats head coach Winston Moss said in an ESPN interview. “While these decisions are difficult, we have given this significant thought. We are here to put the best possible product on the field for our fans. We thank Pepper for his contributions to the Wildcats and we are looking forward to our home opener this weekend.”
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Johnson was a 1986 second-round (51st overall) pick of the Giants out of Ohio State. He won two Super Bowls in seven seasons with the Giants before moving on to the Cleveland Browns, whose head coach was former Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick.
Johnson was a Brown for the team’s final three seasons in Cleveland before moving to Baltimore and becoming the Ravens. He spent a season with the Detroit Lions before playing his final two seasons with the Jets.
Johnson began his coaching career in 2000, reuniting with Belichick on the New England Patriots. He won three Super Bowls in 14 seasons as a Patriots assistant. He joined the Buffalo Bills in 2014 as a defensive line coach but lasted just one season. In 2015, he joined the Jets coaching staff as a defensive line coach. Johnson was on the Jets staff for two seasons before he was fired.