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Vikings Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison No Longer With Team After Refusing COVID Vaccine: Report

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Offensive line coach Rick Dennison is no longer a member of the Minnesota Vikings after he refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an ESPN report.

ESPN's Courtney Cronin reports that Dennison is believed to be the first NFL position coach to part ways with their team after choosing not to receive a vaccine.

Dennison was the team's offensive line coach and run game coordinator for the past two seasons. Cronin reports that assistant line coach Phil Rauscher will take over Dennison's role and Auburn special teams analyst Ben Steele will be the assistant.

The Vikings released a statement Friday afternoon:

"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," the team said.

According to the Vikings, Dennison has been part of 13 playoff appearances, five division titles and three Super Bowl victories in his 26 years as an NFL coach. He is a native of Kalispell, Montana.

NFL requires "Tier 1 and Tier 2" employees, which include position coaches, to be vaccinated unless they have underlying medical or religious reasons for not doing so. The NFL has said it will not mandate the vaccine for players, but is encouraging them to get it by loosening restrictions and protocols for fully-vaccinated players.

In mid-June, Vikings' wide receiver Adam Thielen and safety Harrison Smith said they haven't received the vaccine, though the team has made efforts to educate players on the shot and it is widely available in the state.

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