NFL Imposes New Coronavirus Rules As Vikings Discuss Firing Rick Dennison

NFL logo is seen on a football field.
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News & Politics

Several outlets reported Friday that the Minnesota Vikings have parted ways with offensive line coach Rick Dennison after he refused to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

A Vikings spokesperson told HuffPost ​that Dennison has not been fired yet, but noted that discussions with the coach were "ongoing" and that he is required to get vaccinated.

"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," the spokesperson said.

Does Dennison Have To Get The Jab?

Assistant coaches must be vaccinated unless they have a valid medical or religious reason not to be and Dennison, apparently, does not have one.

Since Dennison most likely would not be granted an exemption, he would not be allowed to interact with players, attend meetings or be on the field.

Reports that Dennison might get fired irked some players, including Vikings running back Alexander Mattison, who took to Twitter to express support for the 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," he wrote.

NFL Rules

The NFL recently imposed strict new rules to encourage vaccination and deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo issued to teams, the organization said that if a game is unable to be rescheduled during the regular season due to a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team experiencing the outbreak will be forced to forfeit the game and be responsible for covering lost revenue.

"Every club is obligated under the Constitution and Bylaws to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place. A failure to do so is deemed conduct detrimental. There is no right to postpone a game," the league said.

Fauci Praises NFL

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at a hearing.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), praised the NFL for imposing new restrictions.

Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, told CBS News that the league is "sending a very strong signal that it's very important to get vaccinated."

"If you want to play football and you want to do it in a way that you feel unrestricted and not worry about any penalties, you just get vaccinated, because they're saying that if unvaccinated people get infected, there are going to be consequences," Fauci said.

Delta Variant

New restrictions are being imposed across the world, in part because governments fear the new Delta variant of COVID-19 -- which spreads fast and can evade antibodies from vaccines and infections -- could upset markets and affect the economy in a major way.

Fauci himself recently warned that the U.S. is "going in the wrong direction," because many still don't want to get vaccinated, allowing the virus to spread at record pace.

Fauci also confirmed that the government is considering recommending booster shots and imposing new mask mandates.