MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota Vikings positional coach who was reportedly set to leave the team after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine will stay on in an advisory capacity.
The Vikings announced Tuesday that Rick Dennison will no longer serve as offensive line coach, instead being named a senior offensive advisor.READ MORE: As Vikings Prepare To Welcome Back Fans, U.S. Bank Stadium Unveils New Foods
Phil Rauscher will take Dennison’s place as offensive line coach, with Ben Steele moving into the assistant coach role for that position.
Last week, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported Dennison and the Vikings were parting ways after he chose not to receive a vaccine. The team released a statement after Cronin’s report, saying it would “continue to hold discussions” with Dennison regarding league COVID protocols.
The 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 Vikings said Dennison does not have an exemption.READ MORE: Gary Anderson, Jared Allen Among Preliminary Nominees For 2022 Hall Of Fame Class
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, as well as imposing competitive and financial penalties for teams who suffer outbreaks among unvaccinated players.
In mid-June, three Vikings players — Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith and Sheldon Richardson — said they haven’t been vaccinated. Quarterback Kirk Cousins said he chooses “to keep my medical history private.”
Head coach Mike Zimmer has said that “the unvaccinated players are going to have a hard time during the season.”
Rauscher is entering his second season with the Vikings, having coached the Washington Football Team’s offensive line before that. Steele was in training camp as a player with the Vikings in 2003 and 2004. Most recently, he coached tight ends for the Atlanta Falcons.MORE NEWS: Vikings Place CB Harrison Hand On Reserve/COVID-19 List
The Vikings open training camp Wednesday.