Like many of the good moves made by the Browns in this list, Pepper Johnson was a great signing, but didn’t last long enough with the team. That doesn’t negate the fact that it was an excellent move by the front office to go out and sign the linebacker back in 1993. The fans were ecstatic to cheer for him, considering he was born in Michigan, but starred for the Ohio State Buckeyes in college.
Johnson was drafted by one of the best coaches to ever roam an NFL sideline in Bill Parcells back in 1986. While playing for “The Big Tuna,” Johnson won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and became recognized as one of the better linebackers in the NFL.
Playing in the 3-4 defense coached by Bill Belichick for most of his time in New York, Johnson finished his seven seasons there with 579 tackles, 19 sacks, 10 interceptions and two touchdowns.
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He then found his way to the Browns, where he ended up playing for just three seasons. He was lured to the team by Bill Belichick, who was now the head coach of the Browns.
Again paired with his first defensive coach, Johnson had 87 tackles in his first season, followed by 122 and 130 after that. He added two more interceptions and 5.5 sacks for good measure. However, when the team left for Baltimore, so did Johnson.
The veteran linebacker went to his hometown to play for the Detroit Lions for one season before meeting up with Parcells again with the New York Jets — where Belichick was again his defensive coordinator. Johnson played two more seasons before retiring.
After his playing days were done, he again teamed up with Belichick. This time as an assistant coach. Johnson held several different titles from 2000 to 2013 with the Patriots and added three more Super Bowl wins as an assistant.