After Rick Dennison left his job as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line coach for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine, the New England Patriots also lost a member of the coaching staff for similar reasons.
Cole Popovich, a member of the team since 2016, has decided to leave the organization because of the Covid-19 guidelines for the upcoming season. He has been the co-offensive line coach alongside Carmen Bricillo since 2020 after Dante Scarnecchia retired following the 2019 season.
Popovich was seen wearing a mask at times during spring practice in New England. With his departure, Bricillo will be the offensive line coach in 2021.
Cole Popovich leaves the Patriots over COVID-19 vaccine requirements
Popovich is the second NFL coach to vacate his job because of requirements for Tier 1 (players, coaches and trainers) employers to be vaccinated for Covid-19. The first was Rick Dennison, who parted ways with the Minnesota Vikings earlier today after also declining to take the vaccine.
Popovich has been part of the Patriots' coaching staff since 2016. His first job was as an assistant, which he held for three seasons until 2019, when he became the assistant running backs coach.
With Scarnecchia retiring after the 2019 season, he was promoted to co-offensive line coach alongside Carmen Bricillo. Before joining the Patriots, Popovich was the offensive line coach for two different teams for community colleges in California.
Carmen Bricillo is the offensive line coach now
With Popovich leaving the job, Bricillo is now officially the Patriots' offensive line coach. He held the same position for Youngstown State, an FCS program, for nine years, joining in 2010 and leaving in 2018 for a coaching assistant position with the Patriots.
Like Popovich, he was granted the chance to coach the offensive line after Scarnecchia retired. He will now handle the job solely.
NFL vaccine policy controversy
Getting a vaccine shouldn't be a major issue, but NFL players are somehow making it a big deal.
Popular players like DeAndre Hopkins, Cole Beasley and Leonard Fournette have tweeted against the protection jab, saying that the NFL is forcing them to do so with a memorandum sent to teams regarding possible outbreaks with unvaccinated players. Hopkins and Beasley even talked about retirement.
The main takeaway from the memorandum is that, if the NFL can't reschedule a game because of an outbreak between unvaccinated players, the team responsible for the outbreak will forfeit the game.
Players from both teams will also miss their weekly paychecks.
While Popovich and Dennison were the first examples, they surely won't be the only ones. Look for more coaches to leave their jobs over a vaccine issue.