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Bill Belichick on Pepper Johnson: ‘Pepper made me a better coach and person’

01.22.14 at 4:36 pm ET

Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a statement Wednesday on Pepper Johnson‘s decision to leave the franchise:

“I am proud and honored to have spent more years of my career with Pepper Johnson than any other player or coach. Of all the people I coached or worked with, nobody has more passion and love for the game than Pepper. His energy and wisdom for football knows no limits. Pepper made me a better coach and person and helped create some of the greatest moments of my career. He is a great player, coach and lifelong friend and I am sure he will enjoy continued success as he moves forward.”

The longtime defensive assistant announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Patriots, saying that he was going to “embrace this new chapter in my life.”

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