A report surfaced earlier on Friday that the Minnesota Vikings and assistant coach Rick Dennison parted ways after Dennison allegedly refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio shared a statement from the Vikings later in the day showing that may not be the case.
"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 team explained. "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."
Throughout the spring, the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell reminded owners that assistant coaches and other personnel could lose their Tier 1 and Tier 2 statuses, essentially making them absentee coaches, if they remained unvaccinated without claiming legitimate health or religious exemptions. Florio notes the Vikings' statement suggests Dennison had such a request denied by the league.
Dennison’s agent, Peter Schaffer, told PFT:
"At all times Rick Dennison has at all times been ready, willing, and able to work and to do everything in his power to help the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl. That continues to be his mindset."
Teams are now facing potential forfeits if they cannot play this season due to a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated personnel and, thus, may have to make difficult decisions between the start of training camp and the end of the preseason.
Also on Friday, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich won't be with the club through at least the upcoming campaign because of the NFL's policies regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations.