Rick Dennison got no shot, and now he has no job.
Dennison, a Vikings assistant coach and the team’s run-game coordinator, is out after refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine, per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin.
It is unclear from Cronin’s report whether Dennison left on his own or was fired, but Cronin notes that he is the first coach to “leave his team” amid a refusal of the vaccine. (UPDATE: Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich will not be with the team in 2021, The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride reported Friday. It is not clear whether Popovich refused to be vaccinated.)
The Vikings said in a statement Friday after Cronin’s report that they were in “discussions” with Dennison about COVID-19 protocols. “At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccine requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and all applicable law,” the team said.
NFL rules dictate that all Tier 1 employees — coaches, players — must be vaccinated or lose privileges pertaining to the team, such as on-field access. All Tier 1 employees must provide valid medical or religious reasons for vaccine refusal.
MORE: NFL sets strict rules for coronavirus-canceled games for 2021
The NFL is taking the coronavirus and punishments for vaccines very seriously in 2021: Should a postponed game not be rescheduled within the 18-week regular season, then the team from which the outbreak originated will be handed a loss. Both teams will lose game checks for the cancelation.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, recently said 80 percent of NFL players have had at least one shot of the vaccine, which has been proven to be safe and effective in preventing severe cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations.
Dr. Sills also revealed that seven teams are above the 90 percent vaccination threshold, with five teams at less than 70 percent. The magic number for restrictions to be lifted among teams is 85 percent.
One thing is for sure, though: For whatever reason, Dennison is 100 percent not vaccinated, and now he’s reportedly out of a job.
This article has been updated with the Vikings’ statement and the Patriots coaching move.
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