The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride reported Friday, citing a league source, that Cole Popovich will not coach with the New England Patriots this season. League sources told ESPN’s Mike Reiss the decision was related to the COVID-19 vaccine and NFL guidelines.
Popovich, who joined the Patriots as a coaching assistant in 2015, shared offensive line coaching duties with Carmen Bricillo in 2020. Bricillo will coach the offensive line by himself in 2021, per McBride.
This is notable in that it further underscores the polarizing nature of the guidelines put in place by the NFL, which requires all Tier 1 staff — including coaches, front-office executives, equipment managers and scouts — to be vaccinated. Players are not required to be vaccinated, but the league’s new rules incentivize players to receive the vaccine by threatening major repercussions for any team that disrupts the 2021 schedule due to an outbreak among unvaccinated players.
The Popovich decision comes on the heels of offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison reportedly leaving the Minnesota Vikings after choosing not to be vaccinated.
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