Pepper Johnson, was has been affiliated with both the Giants and Jets in his football career, was abruptly fired from his XFL gig only hours removed from the league's beginning over the weekend.
Johnson, 55, was employed by the Los Angeles Wildcats as their defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. The team announced he was relieved of his duties on Monday.
The Wildcats had lost their inaugural game, 31-17, to the Houston Roughnecks, a game which featured winning quarterback PJ Walker tossing four touchdown passes.
"We recognize that there are issues we need to address for the 2020 season," Wildcats head coach and general manager Winston Moss said via a statement. "While these decisions are difficult, we have given this significant thought. We are here to put the best possible product on the field for our fans. We thank Pepper for his contributions to the Wildcats and we are looking forward to our home opener this weekend."
Between the two New York NFL teams, Johnson was first associated with the Giants, having been a second-round pick of Big Blue in 1986, playing for the team until 1992. During his time with the Giants, the linebacker won two Super Bowls and was named an All-Pro in 1990.
In regard to the Jets, Johnson rounded out his career there, spending his final two playing seasons in 1997-1998 there. He then coached their defensive line for two seasons in 2015 and 2016.
Johnson's coaching career included 13 seasons working on Bill Belichick's Patriots staff from 2000-2013 in various assistant roles.
Prior to latching on with the Wildcats, Johnson abruptly lost a linebackers coaching position once before, as he briefly coached the Memphis Express linebackers in the now-defunct AAF in 2019.