Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison out after refusing COVID-19 vaccine

After refusing to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison has parted ways with the team.

ESPN confirmed the news on Friday.

Dennison, who had served as the team’s offensive line coach/run game coordinator the past two seasons, is believed to be the first NFL position coach to leave his team after choosing not to receive a vaccine.

On Friday, the Minnesota Vikings issued this statement:

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.

According to a memo released by the NFL, the vaccine is required for all Tier 1 staff, including coaches, front office executives, equipment managers and scouts. Players are not required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but will face strict protocols during training camp and throughout the season that vaccinated players will be able to forgo.

According to a source, Phil Raucscher has been promoted from assistant offensive line coach to fill the position’s need. The Vikings also hired Ben Steele, who had recently been hired by Auburn as a special teams analyst, to fill the position Rauscher had held since 2019.