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Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots helmets sit on the bench before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Pepper Johnson To Leave Patriots

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots helmet on field before the 2013 AFC Championship football game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Patriots’ 2013 season is over, changes within the team will be made over the next couple of months, not only with the players, but among the coaches as well. The first major change comes in the form of longtime defensive coach Pepper Johnson, who will not be with New England in 2014. Johnson was extremely popular among the players, and as he says in his “final goodbye”, he will always be a Patriot in his heart. From ESPNBoston.com, here is his statement on leaving the team.

“Today marks a new day for me. Today is a new day full of promise and hope. It is also a day to reflect, as I embark upon a new journey. 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. 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. “Football is my life. From putting my body on the line, my hand in the dirt, to teaching others to do the same, this will continue for me. … I have big dreams and goals and they all involve football. So as I soak in this new day and embark on wherever my new path takes me, I shall embrace this new chapter in my life. 

“I thank the entire New England Patriot organization for the last 13 years of my life. I am proud of all the things we have accomplished. The Kraft family is one of a kind and I will always be grateful to them and hold them in the highest regard. Bill Belichick and I have been working together in some capacity for 26 years and I am who I am because of it. To have five Super Bowl rings (two as a player, three as a coach) and all of them with Bill has been a blessing. 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.”

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork commented on Johnson leaving, which can be found here.

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