Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison is out after rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine, based on the report
Rick Dennison doesn’t stand a chance, and now he doesn’t have a job.
Dennison, a Vikings assistant coach and run-game coordinator for the team, is out after refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin.
It is unclear from Cronin’s report whether Dennison went alone or was fired, but Cronin notes that he is the first coach to “leave his team” despite the vaccine being rejected. (TO UPDATE: The Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich will not be on the team in 2021, The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride reported on Friday. It is not clear whether Popovich refused to be vaccinated.)
The Vikings said in a statement Friday after Cronin’s report that they were in “talks” with Dennison over COVID-19 protocols. “Currently, Coach Dennison has no exemption from the vaccine requirements of these protocols. We will comply with the requirements of the protocols and all applicable laws,” the team said.
The NFL rules mandate that all Tier 1 employees – coaches, players – must be vaccinated or lose privileges related to the team such as access to the pitch. All Level 1 employees must provide valid medical or religious reasons for refusing the vaccine.
MORE: The NFL sets strict rules for games canceled by coronavirus for 2021
The NFL takes the coronavirus and vaccine penalties very seriously in 2021: If a postponed game is not made up within the 18-week regular season, the team that caused the outbreak will be lost. Both teams lose game controls for the cancellation.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, recently said that 80 percent of NFL players have received at least one vaccination that has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing serious cases of coronavirus and hospitalization.
Dr. Sills also revealed that seven teams are above the 90 percent vaccination threshold and five teams are less than 70 percent. The magic number for lifting restrictions among teams is 85 percent.
One thing is for sure, though: Dennison isn’t 100 percent vaccinated for some reason, and now he’s allegedly unemployed.
This article has been updated with the statement from the Vikings and the Patriots’ coaching change.