The NY Daily News is reporting that former New York Giants LB and current Patriots DL coach Pepper Johnson is in the mix for the vacant Giants Defensive Coordinator position. Johnson – who played 13 seasons in the NFL (7 as a Giant) and has spent 10 years as a defensive assistant under Bill Belichick – is reported to be “very interested” in the position.
I can’t help but be excited about the prospect of Pepper returning to New York. He was one of my favorite childhood players, and the passion he brings to the game could be just what the Giants D needs right now. Plus, Johnson has 5 Super Bowl Rings – 2 as a player, and 3 as a coach – which would command the respect of his players right away.
“Yeah, definitely, it would be instant respect,” said Carl Banks, the former Giants linebacker and a teammate of Johnson’s from 1986-92. “But even if they know nothing of his history and care nothing about Giant tradition, they’ll respect his knowledge of the game. They’ll respect the success he has in this league and the teams he’s coached.”
The Giants are reportedly interviewing former Bills DC Perry Fewell for the position on Thursday, and other names that have been mentioned as candidates include Romeo Crennell and Dick Jauron. All of these guys would be excellent choices, and might make more sense as coaches with more proven track records, but the kid in me is rooting for Pepper.
Unfortunately, there’s a surprising lack of Pepper highlights on the interwebs, but he was a bad man during his prime … part of the best Giants LB corps of all time. And I’ll never forget him dancing at midfield with Williams Roberts after Super Bowl XXI. My senior year of HS, I waited in line at a card show in White Plains, NY to get Pepper’s autograph, which still hangs on my bedroom wall at home. So maybe I’m a little biased here.