Vikings’ Dennison to serve as senior offensive advisor, Rauscher named offensive line coach

The Minnesota Vikings have named Phil Rauscher as offensive line coach and added Ben Steele as the team’s assistant offensive line Coach.  Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols and his reported refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, former offensive line coach Rick Dennison will serve as senior offensive advisor, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

Therefore, without the vaccine, it would be difficult for Dennison to his job.

Rauscher is in his second season with the Vikings and his seventh NFL season. Prior to joining the Vikings, Rauscher served as the offensive line coach for the Washington Football Team after being promoted from assistant offensive line coach during the 2019 season.

Steele joins the Vikings staff in his 8th NFL season and his 14th season of coaching overall. His connections with the Vikings date back to his early playing career when he went to training camp with the club in 2003 and 2004. Steele most recently coached in Atlanta, overseeing tight ends in 2020 and spending 2019 as an offensive assistant.  

Vikings’ Dennison not fired, talks still ongoing with team

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is still with the team after reports surfaced that he was dismissed due to his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Friday, the Vikings released a statement, and according to the team, talks are still ongoing with Dennison.

“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 team said in a statement,” team 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.”

Dennison’s refusal comes on the heels of the league’s announcement about the possibility of forfeits and loss of game checks if they’re cancellations caused by unvaccinated players.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

The 63-year-old Dennison has been the offensive line coach in Minnesota since 2019 and has been a coach in the NFL for 27 years.

This is an interesting situation for sure. Obviously, some will refuse to take the vaccine, but the NFL, as a private entity, can mandate that their coaches and players get vaccinated. The league has not said that they have to get vaccinated, but they are not making it easy for anybody that doesn’t get it done.