The NFL's strict COVID-19 protocols have teams calling an audible for coaching staff weeks ahead of the new season.
Two assistant NFL coaches, one with the New England Patriots and another with the Minnesota Vikings, are poised to leave over COVID-19 requirements, reports said on Friday. The NFL mandates all Tier 1 staff, which includes coaches, must be vaccinated. An NFL memo said the only exemptions considered would be for those who provide proof though medical or religious reasons to not receive the vaccine.
Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison will be out of the upcoming season for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, ESPN's Courtney Cronin reported Friday. However, a statement from the Vikings indicates team officials are still in discussion with the assistant coach.
"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," the team said in a statement. "At this time, coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements."
New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich also won't be with his team this season in a decision related to the vaccine and league guidelines regarding COVID-19, sources with the NFL told ESPN on Friday.
Cole Popovich. (AP Photo)
Dennison, 63, has been with the Vikings for the past two seasons and Popovich, 36, has worked with the Patriots since 2015.
Players are not required to be vaccinated but are subject to stringent protocols during training camp and throughout the season while vaccinated players can resume typical functions without limitation.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to every team in the league on Thursday noting that organizations with COVID-19 outbreaks will risk forfeiting games that are unable to be rescheduled within the schedule of the upcoming season.
The 2021 NFL season will kickoff at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sept. 9 between the Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys.
The Washington Examiner contacted the Vikings and Patriots for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Kaelan Deese
Original Location: NFL coaches getting shoved out of season by COVID-19 rules