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Vikings: 'Discussions' underway with offensive line coach Rick Dennison over vaccine protocols

The Vikings' statement follows an ESPN report claiming Dennison had been let go for allegedly refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Credit: AP
Then-New York Jets offensive line coach Rick Dennison talks to the media at the NFL football team's training camp in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings released a statement Friday countering published reports that the team had dismissed offensive line coach Rick Dennison for allegedly refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

An ESPN report published Friday afternoon made the initial claim, with ESPN's Courtney Cronin reporting that the Vikings will promote assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher to fill Dennison's job.

However, the team did not confirm any dismissal and said they're in discussions with  Dennison about his COVID protocols.

"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."

NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk notes that the NFL is requiring all "Tier 1" football staff to get a vaccine. "Tier 1" staff includes those people with close contact with players, such as coaches.

On Thursday, NFL teams were warned they could forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among non-vaccinated players, and players on both teams wouldn't get paid that week. 

According to the NFL, nearly all clubs teams have vaccinated 100% of their Tier 1 and 2 staffs. In addition, the league says more than half the teams have COVID-19 vaccination rates greater than 80% of their players, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated.