UPDATE #2: Apparently Dennison has not, in fact, been fired by the team yet. The Vikings have released a statement that reads as follows:
The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games. At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and of applicable law.
So, at this time, Rick Dennison is still employed by the Vikings, from the looks of it. Things are rapidly changing here, it would appear, so we’ll do our best to keep you updated.
UPDATE: A tidbit from Tyler Forness of Climbing the Pocket sheds a little more light on this move.
Great nugget in here from @MichaelDavSmith— Tyler Forness (@TheRealForno) July 23, 2021
“The NFL is requiring Tier 1 staff — the people in closest contact with players, such as coaches and equipment managers — to get vaccinated. Players cannot be forced to get vaccinated.” https://t.co/pghOMHA8Hb
While the league can’t force players to get vaccinated, they have apparently mandated it for coaches and other staff that have close contact with the players. With Dennison’s refusal, the team really had no choice but to let him go.
Original story follows.
In the wake of the new rules announced by the NFL yesterday about penalties for COVID-19 outbreaks, the Minnesota Vikings are the first team to experience fallout from it. And it’s a fairly significant one.
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
According to Courtney Cronin of ESPN, Vikings’ offensive line coach Rick Dennison has been fired by the team for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher will be promoted to replace Dennison, with Auburn University special teams analyst Ben Steele brought in as his assistant.
Dennison came to the Vikings in 2019 to work with then-offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak on the Minnesota offense. He had worked with Kubiak with both the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos during their careers.
The league announced yesterday that if games can not be rescheduled because of COVID-19 outbreaks, the team responsible for the outbreak would have to forfeit the game and take the hit in the standings, among other penalties. While firing your offensive line coach a week before Training Camp starts probably isn’t ideal, the Vikings apparently made the decision that Dennison did not merit taking the risk for.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops. As it stands right now, however, the Minnesota Vikings have fired offensive line coach Rick Dennison for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine and replaced him with assistant Phil Rauscher.