Rick Dennison, an assistant coach with the Minnesota Vikings, won't return next season after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, per sources cited by ESPN. As of Friday, the team maintained in a statement that they were in continued discussions with Dennison over the issue. Dennison served as Vikings offensive line coach and run game coordinator for the past two season. Notably, the Vikings said Friday that Dennison does not have a vaccine exemption. The 63-year-old previously worked for teams in Denver, Houston, Baltimore, and New York before joining the Vikings in 2019.
After news of Dennison's departure broke Friday, CBS Sports reports it was announced Cole Popovich would no longer serve as co-offensive line coach for the New England Patriots, also due to COVID-19 vaccination requirements. NFL guidelines require all tier-1 staff, including coaches, to be vaccinated. NFL players are not required to be vaccinated, but those who forgo the shot will face restrictive protocols during training and regular season. To emphasize this stance, the NFL announced last month that any disruption in the schedule next season caused by a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players could result in forfeits and financial penalties. As of late June, the AP reported that 80 percent of NFL players were in the process of being vaccinated. (Read more NFL stories.)