Fired After Four Quarters Of Football

I mean, damn! Not a great day for Pepper.

Jim Rome
February 11, 2020 - 11:15 am
Pepper Johnson

USA Today


Black Monday in the NFL is the Monday after Week 17 of the regular season where coaches and GM’s who failed to deliver on expectations get their walking papers. Black Monday in the XFL—however—is apparently after just four quarters of football. Because after giving up 37 points to the Houston Roughnecks in Week 1 of the regular season—Pepper Johnson was iced as the LA Wildcats defensive coordinator. 

I mean, damn! A totally where-were-you-when moment. Where were you when the XFL brought down the hammer and fired its first coach? And not just any coach—freaking Pepper Johnson. Dude has a Super Bowl ring for every digit on one of his paws. Two as a player. Three as a coach. But apparently a fist-full of jewelry from the highest level isn’t enough to survive one week in the XFL. You wanna talk about a cut-throat business? Hell, the old Dallas Cowboys head coach got an entire decade to clap on the sidelines before meeting his maker. Pepper Johnson got—what—an entire game? In the XFL? And did I mention, my man has FIVE super bowl rings?

If you’re not taking the XFL seriously yet—just know that the LA Wildcats sure as hell are. And maybe a little too seriously. Who the hell gets canned after one bad game? Were there a bunch of Wildcat fans calling for this guy’s job after that shellacking from H-Town? Trust me. I live here. This town barely takes its NFL football seriously. So I can’t imagine how badly they wanted to see someone fall on the sword after one XFL game. 

I’m still getting used to the fact that media is covering the XFL. That there are actually XFL highlights. And now we’ve got statements about dismissals I have to read on this show. Yesterday, head coach and GM Winston Moss said, “While these decisions are difficult, we have given this significant thought. We thank Pepper for his contributions to the Wildcats and we are looking forward to our home opener this weekend.”

We have given this significant thought? 

Sure you didn’t. Firing someone after one game doesn’t sound like significant thought. It sounds like exactly the opposite. Never mind how bad it looks to fire a guy after just one season. This dude got smoked after just one game. If firing a coach after one season is admitting a mistake, what the hell is firing a guy after only one game??

It sounds like a panic move. It sounds like an impulse. It sounds like anything other than significant thought. Carlos Beltran can’t believe how quickly Pep got the axe. 

And did Moss really just say he wanted to thank Pepper for his contributions?

What contributions? The guy was there for a cup of coffee before you ripped it out of his hand and told him to find his own Keurig. 

Such a weird statement after such a weird move. I guess the Wildcats were hell-bent on running the table. And after that didn’t happen someone had to pay the piper. And that someone was Pepper Johnson. I guess five Super Bowl rings and a badass name don’t guarantee you jack in the XFL. 

Look, I get that coughing up 37 points in a loss isn’t exactly a good day at the office. But the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator last year—Pat Graham—did that four times. And kept his job. And then got hired by the New York Giants last month to do the same gig up the coast. Turns out you have to rail lines of blow on camera and send it to a Vegas stripper to get fired from the Dolphins coaching staff. But go ahead and give up 37 points as much as you want to. I’d tell Pepper send his resume to the Dolphins but they already just filled that vacancy.

The question now is; who are the Wildcats gonna fire next week if they don’t beat the Dallas Renegades? Wont’ be long before Winston Moss the GM is looking at Winston Moss the head coach. Because at the rate they’re toe-tagging staffers, it’s only a matter of time before they get to the guy in charge.  Hell, Moss may not let Moss even get off the field at halftime before he breaks him off. 

Not a great day for Pepper. But an even worse day for Bill Belichick who’s coaching tree now includes Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, Matt Patricia, and a dude who was just fired from the XFL after one game.  Bad look for Pepp; worse look for the hood. 

You’ll tell me you  hate Mondays. And that you hate your boss even more? Yeah, well…Try being Pepper Johnson. I’d tell you to pour one out for Pepp, but it looks like the Wildcats already did.