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Pepper Johnson

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Pepper Johnson

Pepper Johnson
Johnson in 2007 as a coach for the New England Patriots
No. 52, 99     Buffalo Bills
Personal information
Date of birth: (1964-07-29) July 29, 1964
Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
College: Ohio State
NFL Draft: 1986 / Round: 2 / Pick: 51
Debuted in 1986
Last played in 1998
Career history
 As player:
 As coach:
Assistant Linebacker Coach (2000)
Inside Linebacker Coach (20012003)
Defensive Line Coach (2004–2011)
Linebackers Coach (2012–2013)
Defensive Line Coach (2014–)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks 25.5
Interceptions 14
Defensive Touchdowns 2
Stats at

Thomas "Pepper" Johnson (born July 29, 1964) is a former American football linebacker. He played in the National Football League for 13 seasons, the first seven of which were for the New York Giants. He won two Super Bowls with the Giants before playing for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and New York Jets.

After his playing career ended, Johnson began working as an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills.


  • Playing career 1
    • College 1.1
    • NFL 1.2
  • Coaching career 2
  • Personal 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • External links 5

Playing career


Upon graduation from Detroit's Mackenzie High School, Johnson played college football for the Ohio State University Buckeyes under head coach Earle Bruce. Johnson lettered every year from 1982 to 1985, and led the team in tackles in 1984 and 1985. He was a team co-captain in 1984 and 1985, and in 1985 was named as an All American. Johnson ended his college career with 379 total tackles. He was inducted into the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame in 2001.


Johnson was drafted by the New York Giants in the second round of the 1986 NFL Draft. With the Giants, he was a member of both the Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV-winning teams, under head coach Bill Parcells and assistant Bill Belichick. After seven seasons in New York, Johnson re-joined Belichick with the Cleveland Browns in 1993, Belichick's third season as the team's head coach. After the 1995 season, the Browns moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and neither Belichick nor Johnson followed the team there. Johnson instead joined the Detroit Lions, whom he spent one season with in 1996. For what would become the final two seasons of his career, Johnson again re-joined Belichick, who was then serving as the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets under Parcells. After the 1998 season, Johnson retired from the NFL with career totals of 25.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 14 interceptions, and over 1,200 tackles.

Coaching career

Johnson began his coaching career as an assistant linebackers coach with the Patriots during the 2000 season.[1] Johnson then served as the Patriots' inside linebackers coach from 2001 through 2003, before moving to defensive line coach in 2004. In 2012, he returned to linebackers coach. With Bill Gutman, Pepper Johnson wrote "Won For All," an account of the New England Patriots 2001 Super Bowl championship season, which was published by Contemporary Books, a McGraw-Hill company, ISBN 0-07-140877-0.

On January 21 2014, Johnson announced he would be leaving the New England Patriots. On January 31, 2014, the Buffalo Bills announced Johnson as their new defensive line coach, replacing Anthony Weaver who left for a similar position in Cleveland.


Johnson's nickname of "Pepper" originated from his aunt who noticed Johnson liked to put black pepper on his breakfast cereal.[1] Pepper's son, Dionte Johnson (born June 28, 1986) is a former fullback for the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Arizona Cardinals. Dionte was elected as a captain of the Ohio State team in 2007, making Pepper and Dionte only the third father-son captains (after Jim and Kirk Herbstreit and James and Jeff Davidson) in Buckeye history. Pepper also has a daughter, Aanjeya Johnson, (born May 20, 2009) with his fiancée.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "Pepper Johnson Biography".  

External links

  • Buffalo Bills biography

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