Former Falcons Coach Hired; NFL Coach Fired for Refusing COVID Vaccine

Rick Dennison was fired Friday by the Minnesota Vikings

Escalating the controversy surrounding the NFL's new COVID policy, Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach and run game coordinator Rick Dennison was fired Friday for refusing to get vaccinated.

He is believed to be the first NFL coach terminated for not agreeing to the NFL's COVID guidelines, which stipulate that all Tier 1 staff - including coaches, front-office executives, equipment manager and scouts - be vaccinated.

READ MORE: Saints Star could be Sidelined to Start Season 

The NFL on Thursday sent teams a memo outlining forfeit procedures should a team's unvaccinated players suffer a COVID outbreak. Should there be a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players and staff, games would not be rescheduled, and teams would forfeit.

Minnesota promoted from within, elevating assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher to Dennison's former position according to Courtney Cronin, who first broke the news on Twitter.

The Vikings also hired Auburn University special teams analyst Ben Steele. Steele was an offensive assistant for the Atlanta Falcons in 2019 and was the tight ends coach last season.

Dennison, 63, has played for coached in the NFL for 30 years. He played in three Super Bowls as a linebacker for the Denver Broncos and coached at a variety of levels for six teams.

In 2011, Dennison was a finalist for the Broncos' head coaching job, which went to John Fox. He previously coached quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall to Pro Bowl seasons in Denver.

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