“The Minnesota Vikings express our deepest sympathies to Chris Doleman’s family and friends upon his passing,” the team said in a statement. “Chris was a great example for players past and present, as he embodied all the best characteristics of a Viking — resilience, toughness and a competitive spirit. Chris always carried himself with dignity and class. Vikings fans worldwide will greatly miss him.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker added, “The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Chris Doleman after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer. I had the honor of getting to know him not only as a great football player but an outstanding human being. One of the honors of my life was witnessing Chris get baptized in the Jordan River during a Hall of Fame trip to Israel.
“The legacy of Chris Doleman will live forever in Canton, Ohio, for generations to learn from how he lived a life of courage and character.”
Doleman underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in Jan. 2018 and had been fighting glioblastoma ever since.
The prolific defensive end played 15 seasons in the NFL, including 10 with the Vikings. Minnesota drafted Doleman fourth overall out of Pittsburgh in the 1985 draft and the edge rusher made an instant impact, earning All-Rookie honors.
Doleman spent his first nine seasons in Minnesota before playing with the Falcons for two years (1994-95) and the 49ers for three (1996-98). He led the Falcons in sacks in 1995 (9) and the 49ers in 1998 (15). Doleman returned to Minnesota in 1999 for one final campaign in purple before retiring.
Doleman played postseason football in 10 of his 15 seasons and participated in 17 playoff games. However, the great defensive end never won or even reached a Super Bowl.
Over the course of his career, Doleman was voted to eight Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro twice. He led the league with 21 sacks in 1989, which at the time was tied for second-most in a season, and finished with 150.5 for his career, good for fifth all-time. Doleman recorded at least seven sacks in every season he played from 1987 through 1999.
“When I was a little kid, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would ever be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Doleman told NFL Network in May 2018. “I also never thought that I’d have brain cancer either.”
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