Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Patriots' Johnson latest LBs coach to leave division


The New York Jets' linebackers coach left for Notre Dame. The Miami Dolphins' linebackers coach left for the Minnesota Vikings. One of the Buffalo Bills' linebackers coaches was fired.

Now, it's the New England Patriots' turn.

Patriots linebackers coach Pepper Johnson will be leaving the team he spent more than a dozen years with, as first reported by ESPN Boston Tuesday and confirmed by Johnson.

"Today is the first day in 13 years that I am not a part of the New England Patriots, although I will always be a Patriot in my heart," Johnson said in a statement, via ESPN Boston. "Today also marks the first day in 26 years that I am not working in some capacity with one of greatest head coaches of all time, as well as my friend, Bill Belichick."

The former linebacker Johnson played under Belichick during stints with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.

He joined Belichick's staff in 2000.

"To have five Super Bowl rings (two as a player, three as a coach) and all of them with Bill has been a blessing," Johnson said. "I could never have asked for a better coach/boss/friend in those 26 years. 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."

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