Rick Dennison, the assistant coach for the Minnesota Vikings, was fired Friday after he refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The NFL made a requirement for all its top-level employees, ESPN reported.
Dennison, 63, is believed to be the first NFL position coach to lose his job over a refusal to get vaccinated, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Assistant offensive line coach Phil Rausch will replace the former coach, and the team hired Auburn University special-teams analyst Ben Steele to fill Rauscher’s now vacant position.
Dennison’s termination comes one day after the NFL set strict new penalties for all teams that experience a virus outbreak during the 2021 season, which includes fines, loss of pay, and playing time for unvaccinated players, and even more consequentially, forfeited games, the outlet reported.
The league made it mandatory that all top-tier staff members get vaccinated, including coaches, front-office executives, equipment managers, and scouts.
If they remain unvaccinated, they must submit a valid religious or medical reason for not receiving the vaccine, the league stated in a memo earlier this summer.
Losing Tier 1 status stops coaches from being on the field and in team meeting rooms and from having direct contact with players.
Players, on the other hand, aren’t required to receive a vaccine. But there’s added pressure by the league for them to do so.
Prominent NFL players have spoken out against taking the vaccine, including Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley and Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins. Both indicated that they might consider ending their careers over the controversial vaccine.