Rick Dennison has become the first NFL coach to leave his team after not choosing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On Friday, it was announced that he and the Minnesota Vikings officially parted ways.
Dennison, 63, has been an NFL assistant since the mid-1990s. He was a coach for the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets before he joined the Vikings’ staff in 2019.
Minnesota put Dennison in charge of its run game, which was one of the best in the league last season. The Vikings finished fifth in rushing yards and fourth in yards per carry.
Now that Dennison is officially out as the offensive line coach/run game coordinator for the Vikings, several analysts and fans have shared their stance on this topic.
Vikings running back Alexander Mattison also entered this discussion, as he voiced his opinion on Twitter.
“Smh, they act as if we didn’t successfully play a whole season last year,” Mattison tweeted. “Don’t make no sense. I’m rockin wit you 100% coach.”
Smh, they act as if we didn’t successfully play a whole season last year. Don’t make no sense. I’m rockin wit you 100% coach 💯 https://t.co/dNoiV7ZVmx
— Alexander Mattison (@AlexMattison22) July 23, 2021
It’s unclear if this decision will cause any friction in Minnesota’s locker room. At the end of the day, the team is just trying to comply with the league’s new rules.
Earlier this year, the NFL mandated that all “Tier 1 staff” get vaccinated. The “Tier 1” group includes coaches, front-office personnel, equipment managers, and scouts. That means unvaccinated coaches cannot be on the field, or have meetings or “direct interactions” with their players.
Since the Vikings will not retain Dennison for the 2021 season, first-year offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak will have even more work cut out for him.