Belichick statement on Pepper Johnson’s departure

Patriots coach Bill Belichick released a statement Wednesday on the departure of linebackers coach Pepper Johnson, who had been with the team for 13 seasons, saying Johnson made him a better person and coach.

“I am proud and honored to have spent more years of my career with Pepper Johnson than any other player or coach,” Belichick said. “Of all the people I coached or worked with, nobody has more passion and love for the game than Pepper. His energy and wisdom for football knows no limits.

“Pepper made me a better coach and person and helped create some of the greatest moments of my career. He is a great player, coach and lifelong friend and I am sure he will enjoy continued success as he moves forward.”

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Johnson announced his departure Tuesday in a statement to ESPN Boston. He had worked with Belichick since his time as a linebacker with the New York Giants, earning five Super Bowl rings while teamed with Belichick as either a coach or a player.

“I could never have asked for a better coach/boss/friend in those 26 years,” Johnson wrote. “Thanks for always supporting me and I know Bill will continue to support me no matter what.

“Thank you New England Patriot fans I will miss you the most.”

Johnson did not elaborate on what his next move would be.

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