The NFL continues to heavily incentivize players to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even if it won’t mandate it. The same is not the case for coaches and other league staffers, and now Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is out of his job.
Dennison had been with the team for the past two seasons, serving as the run game coordinator as well. The league mandated that all “Tier 1 staff” get vaccinated, a group that includes coaches, front-office personnel, equipment managers, and scouts.
Per a league memo, any Tier 1 staffer who refused to be vaccinated had to provide a “valid religious or medical reason,” ESPN reports. Non-Tier 1 staffers cannot be on the field, or have meetings or “direct interactions” with their players, making it basically impossible to serve as a position coach or coordinator.
The 63-year old Dennison has been a major NFL assistant since the mid-1990s. He won three Super Bowls on the Denver Broncos staff, as special teams coordinator for the two titles with John Elway at quarterback during the 1997-98 seasons, and as offensive coordinator at the end of the 2015 season, during the Peyton Manning era. He has also served as OC for the Houston Texans, quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens, OC for the Buffalo Bills, and OL coach/run game coordinator for the New York Jets.
Breaking: Rick Dennison is out as Vikings offensive line coach/run game coordinator after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. MIN will promote assistant OL coach Phil Rauscher to replace Dennison, hired Auburn special teams analyst Ben Steele as an assistant. https://t.co/3oOgXHsaMr
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) July 23, 2021
Minnesota assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher has been promoted to fill Dennison’s role, per ESPN. Ben Steele, who the team recently hired away from Auburn, will take over for Rauscher.
Dennison oversaw a Vikings offense that finished fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, and fourth in yards per carry, with star running back Dalvin Cook leading the way. The Vikings rushed for 20 scores on the season.
It’s certainly a big loss for the team, and a notable one given the circumstances. We’ll see if anything more comes of it, or if he’s just the first coach to lose his job by declining the vaccine.
The post Report: Vikings Coach Out After Refusing Vaccine appeared first on The Spun.
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