ESPN is reporting that Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison has left the team after refusing to get a vaccination against the COVID-19 virus, but the club said it is still in ''discussions'' with him.
Quoting unidentified sources, ESPN wrote: ''Dennison is out as a Minnesota Vikings assistant coach.''
However, the Vikings' vice president of strategic/corporate communications, Jeff Anderson, issued a statement to Newsmax by email denying the report.
''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 statement said. ''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.''
If true, Dennison would be the first Tier 1 staff member of a National Football League club to depart over the vaccination issue, ESPN said.
The report comes a day after the NFL issued a memo to teams alerting that any team that is unable to play its scheduled game this season due to violations of COVID protocol, i.e., not having enough players to play because of positive tests, would forfeit the game and neither team would be paid.
The 63-year-old Dennison, who played for eight years as a linebacker for the Denver Broncos after a college career mostly as a tight end, has been a coach for six different NFL teams. He has been with the Vikings since 2019.
ESPN quoted unidentified sources as saying that Phil Rauscher has been promoted from assistant offensive line coach to fill Dennison''s position.
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