Vikings assistant Rick Dennison out after refusing COVID-19 vaccine

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Rick Dennison, the offensive line coach/run game coordinator the past two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, finds himself out of a job as of Friday.

The reason? Dennison chose not to take a COVID-19 vaccine, according to ESPN.

The vaccines are not optional for coaches. It is required for all Tier 1 staff, including coaches, executives, equipment personnel, and scouts.

The NFL said via memo this summer that any unvaccinated Tier 1 staff member would need to provide a valid religious or medical reason for not receiving the vaccine. Those who are not in Tier 1 on an NFL team makes them unable to be on the field and in meeting rooms and have direct contact with players.

Per ESPN.com:

Phil Rauscher has been promoted from assistant offensive line coach to fill Dennison’s position, sources told ESPN. 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.

Dennison’s departure comes at a time of transition for the Vikings’ offense, which will be guided by first-year offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak. Kubiak, 34, was promoted to fill the role his father, Gary, held in Minnesota during the 2020 season.

Dennison has 27 years of NFL coaching experience. The 63-year-old was with Denver Denver (1995-2009, 2015-16), Houston (2010-13), and Baltimore (2014). Before joining the Vikings in 2019, Dennison served as offensive line coach/run game coordinator for the New York Jets in 2018.