Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman has passed away at the age of 58 after a multi-year battle with brain cancer. One of the best pass rushers the NFL has ever seen, Doleman spent 15 years in the league – ten of those with the Vikings – and is fifth on the all-time sacks list with 150.5.
The Vikings and the Wilf family released the following statement on Doleman's passing:
The Minnesota Vikings express our deepest sympathies to Chris Doleman's family and friends upon his passing. 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.
Doleman was born in Indianapolis, attended high school in York, PA, and starred at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1980s. He was taken by the Vikings with the No. 4 pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, beginning his career as an outside linebacker. When the team switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense in 1987 and Doleman moved to defensive end, his Hall of Fame career began to take off. He recorded 11 sacks that season and was named a first team All-Pro.
In 1989, Doleman put together one of the great individual pass-rushing seasons in NFL history. He recorded 21 sacks, which is tied for the fifth-most in a single season all-time. His Vikings franchise record was broken by Jared Allen (22) in 2011, with Allen being just one of three NFL players to surpass 21 sacks since 1989. Doleman was again a first team All-Pro that year, and achieved that honor for a third time in 1992.
Doleman played for the Atlanta Falcons in 1994 and 1995, and for the San Francisco 49ers from 1996 through 1998. In his final year with the 49ers – at 37 years old – Doleman's 15 sacks were tied for third-most in the NFL. He retired after that season, but was convinced by the Vikings to re-join them for one final year in 1999. Doleman was an eight-time Pro Bowler and missed just two games in 15 years.
In addition to his 150.5 sacks, Doleman forced 44 fumbles and recorded eight interceptions – including two pick-sixes – in his illustrious career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Doleman was diagnosed with the brain cancer glioblastoma in January of 2018. He had just recently tweeted about celebrating his two-year anniversary of surviving the disease.
Doleman is survived by his two children, Evan and Taylor Doleman, whom he had with his former wife Toni. He recently married LaTresa Doleman in September 2018.