It’s often an overused phrase with players when it’s said, ‘He’s a student of the game.’ Bills defensive line coach Pepper Johnson however, exemplified that during his 13 years as a player in the NFL and has done for the past decade and a half as a coach.
Johnson, whose dream was to be a legendary high school coach at his alma mater in Detroit (the school unfortunately closed), spent time as a player pulling advice and pointers about the game from some of the best who played in the modern era.
“I would take information that I got from professionals that I respected and I tried to pick the brains of a Ronnie Lott, the late Reggie White, Richard Dent, Everson Walls,” said Johnson. “I tried to pick the brains of those guys and I wanted to present it to high school kids as much as possible. It stemmed from a football camp I used to do back in Detroit.”
But with just a three-day football camp it allowed him to take that NFL wisdom only so far. Equipped with a lot of football lessons both experienced and learned, Johnson is not concerned in the least in learning the terminology of Buffalo’s defensive scheme under Jim Schwartz.
“I’m a very big fan of football and the history of football,” Johnson said. “So I have watched and studied and I’ve learned from a lot of older guys who played in the 60’s and 70’s to the present day. And how the game changed because some things you can’t change like, tackle the man with the football. To me it’s just a matter of semantics with different terminology and just applying it to myself. It’s not a totally different concept where I’m learning the game. I’m willing to match my wits with anybody as far as football.”
Johnson has also crossed paths with Schwartz before in the NFL. They were both with the Cleveland Browns for three seasons (1993-95). Johnson was playing for Bill Belichick and Schwartz was a scout with the club.
Tags: Jim Schwartz, Pepper Johnson
Posted in Inside the Bills