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 Post subject: Fascinating Q & A with Pepper Johnson
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:02 am 
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Snip, Snip....

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Q. Something that fascinates me about the NFL is the way they set up a media apparatus that’s basically designed to keep us in the dark about a lot of this stuff.

A. Yeah. Well, again, a lot of the coaches are kind of in the dark now. Some coaches just pretty much tell you their game plans talking to the media, and whether the media guys picked up on that information or not, or was picking enough and making them give up information, they give up information. And then you want to say, ‘Somebody videotaped and somebody was cheating.’ Well, like, I don’t get it. Look at how much stuff a lot of the reporters or a lot of the analysts pick up on the night before a game, and then go out and say it during the game. ‘Oh, such-and-such told me last night they were going to throw the ball to the running backs a lot.’ Don’t you think the other team is not listening to that?

Q. They weren’t taping the other team’s signals, though. Wasn’t that the issue with Spygate?

A. But just so that you know, what’s more important? A signal, or what someone is saying? The last I checked, I’ve never seen an offensive coordinator or a defensive coordinator—even the guys up in the booth—cover their mouth when they’re talking. So once upon a time you had lip readers that were sitting up there reading lips.

Q. Who did that?

A. It was just teams that were doing that. That’s why I’m kind of presenting that as a question to you. If no one was doing anything—if we’re using the word ‘cheating’ or ‘illegal’—then why do those guys cover their mouth? You cannot watch a video on the sideline, right? So if someone videotaped anybody, that’s for a later date, or a later time. They even make sure that you’ve got people in the locker room from the other team. Like, the equipment guy. I guess those guys sit around just to make sure no one is watching the video, or you have no video hookups like that. So you’re talking about the next game.

Q. So Spygate wasn’t a big deal because everyone was doing it?

A. Let me put it this way: Whomever wasn’t doing anything similar or something like that, they weren’t trying. They didn’t know football.

Q. Why did Eric Mangini turn you guys in, then?

A. Uh. That’s a whole other story. There’s some people. Like we say with the Giants—Giant for life, true blue. And I still—I’m mad at myself, but I would never get over it, and I would never forgive Jim Burt for diving at [Jeff] Hostetler’s legs, when he went over to San Francisco. There’s nothing that he could possibly say, or anybody could say to me, [that would] make me feel any different. Because he was with us—and I know how bad he wanted to win—but I’m never taking a cheap shot at anybody. I respect the game more than anything, and I’m not taking a cheap shot. And that guy dove on Hostetler’s leg, hurt him, tried to dive on Hostetler’s leg again and didn’t get to him. I’ve seen him again this summer; I’ve seen him at [O.J. Anderson’s] golf tournament. I shake his hand, and that’s about as far as it goes.

Q. Same with Mangini?

A. It would be the same with Mangini.

Q. What was it like leaving the Patriots after all those years?

A. I was so worried when I left the Patriots that people were just going to bring me in to pick my brain. When I walked into the Giants’ interview for defensive coordinator, I didn’t know if they were just going to pick my brain on what we do on defense, or if they really wanted me as a defensive coordinator. In Buffalo, we played the Patriots twice. The Jets were also in the division, so we played the Patriots twice. No one asked me anything, offensively or defensively, about the Patriots. And I’ve been with Bill Belichick more than 20 years.

Q. But when you were in New England and you brought in a guy from the outside... ?

A. Oh, we’re going to pick his brain. Player, coach. Oh, yes. Bill hired Dom Capers just to get his philosophy on zone pressures. Capers got fired in Carolina, but he was still getting his head coaching money [from whatever was left on his contract]. Belichick goes and hires him for a couple hundred thousand, and meanwhile Carolina’s footing the rest of the bill, so he gets him in the door and tries to pick Capers’s brain—but Capers don’t relinquish any information. But Capers didn’t have to. Bill got it from [ex-Patriots defensive end, current Titans head coach Mike] Vrabel, cause Vrabel was [with Capers] in Pittsburgh.

Q. Why do you think Belichick benched Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl?

A. That’s one of those—like, I don’t know—but he had to have done something major that’s a no-no of Bill’s. He either missed a meeting, or, like, breaking curfew or something like that, or he had a girl in his room. I’m here to tell you, because a lot of people are like, ‘Aw, man, to lose the Super Bowl?’ Bill Belichick is not going to lose everything he stands for for that guy. If he can tell Randy Moss, Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Corey Dillon, and none of those guys break the rules, then why should [he] say, ‘This guy broke it, but it’s the Super Bowl’? You’re getting ready to open up a dam. The same way when you asked me about the press conference with the Jets, where I was between a rock and a hard place, I’m quite sure he felt the same way. Like, ‘We’re just going to have to figure out a way to win this without this dude, but the last thing I’m going to do is break everything that I’ve been doing for so long.’ I don’t know how many other veteran guys he has over there now, but when I was there, those guys wouldn’t have stood for it, either. They would have all been okay with it too—like, once again, Bruschi, and Vince, and Willie McGinest, those guys would have been chastising Butler themselves. Like, ‘How are you going to pick this week to mess it up?’ There’s a lot of other stories, and I’m not going to get into them—

Q. You can!

A. —Yeah, yeah. It’s similar situations where people acted out during the course of the week, and the players took it upon themselves.

Q. When you played, your Giants teammates were close, right?

A. We would have a linebacker dinner, like, once a year. Harry [Carson] would talk Parcells into giving him some of the fine money. Parcells would give him some of the fine money and we’d go to Fuddruckers and everybody’d make a hamburger, and this, that, and the other. Even Belichick. Belichick came out, too. Belichick—he wouldn’t have more than three beers, and then he would go back to the office and go to work [laughs]. That’s that guy. He ended up switching over, when he started coaching the defensive backs, so Mark Collins and them would try to get him to go out and drink a beer. And that dude was drinking O’Doul’s. So we started clowning the defensive backs, like, ‘Man, ya’ll can’t even get Belichick to drink a beer? He’s going to drink O’Doul’s with ya’ll!’

Q. How was he in New England with going out?

A. Belichick?

Q. Yeah.

A. Uh. [long pause] Belichick would take us out. He would thank us. Most likely it was like a Ruth’s Chris or something like that. Now, have I ever seen Bill with two or three drinks? Yes. But I can’t say I’ve ever seen him—like, he’s not a lush. He came to [Lawrence Taylor]’s 56th birthday in New York; this was when I was coaching with the Jets. The first thing he says to me is something football-related, something LT did or he said—it was something football-related. This guy’s head, it never gets off of football. Like, here we are at LT’s birthday party and he’s still talking about football.

Q. Did he ever loosen up?

A. That’s what I’m saying. He’s loose. But his loose is probably not as loose as yours and mine. I can’t ever imagine Bill Belichick drinking a shot. But Bill Belichick would toast.

Q. You’ve never seen him drunk?

A. Uh, no. Well, you know what? If he was drunk, he didn’t let me know it. But I’m bad, too. I never wanted Bill Belichick to see me drunk, you know what I mean? As a player, I’m the puppy, I’m the young guy on the squad. Carl [Banks], and of course LT, and Harry, they could get away with murder. But some kind of way, he would have clowned me. We’d be watching film. ‘Yeah, you can turn up that Jack Daniel’s or you can drink that, but you can’t sit over here and make this tackle.’ I didn’t want to give him any ammunition. Now, as a coach, I think we all kind of watched our Ps and Qs. When I first started coaching I would never drink close to what I used to drink as a player. He didn’t get drunk around me, I didn’t get drunk around him.

Q. You didn’t want to let your guard down.

A. Exactly. As a player, if a player gets drunk, I don’t care what age he really is, he’s kind of got a get-out-of-jail free card. It might last a week or so, but they’re going to take it with a grain of salt. Somebody’s going to drink and just try to release. And back then, we didn’t have Ubers. We spent a lot of money getting home in limos and cabs. But as a coach, there’s no way in the world I ever want to put myself out there like that in that situation. Because I’d be embarrassing Bill Belichick, I’d be embarrassing Doug Marrone, I’d be embarrassing Todd Bowles. I’m not going to put them into a situation where they’re going to have to answer questions for me. And then the players—the freaking kids, the comedians—they wouldn’t let you live it down.

https://deadspin.com/q-a-pepper-johnson ... 1828726414


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