Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman has died following a long battle with cancer.
58-year-old Hall of Famer Chris Doleman was widely regarded as one of the most fearsome pass rushers to ever play in the NFL and enjoyed a prolific spell with the Minnesota Vikings that began in 1985 and ended in 1993.
He returned as a member of the Vikings in 1999 after a standout 15-year career, but his health became a growing concern in recent years, which also saw Doleman have surgery to remove a brain tumor in January 2018.
A statement on NFL.com from the David Baker, president, and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where Doleman was induced in 2012, read:
“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.”
After a sensational college spell at Pittsburgh, Doleman was selected by the Vikings with the fourth pick in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft.
His most dominant season with the organization came in 1989, where he recorded a league-high 21 sacks before moving on to the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers before returning to Minneapolis.
The 6-foot-5 Doleman recorded 150.5 sacks in 232 games throughout his career, in addition to being selected to the first-team All-Pro roster twice and appeared in eight Pro Bowls.
A statement on Vikings.com from the Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf family, read:
“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’s accolades also saw him named to the NFL’s All-Decade team and he was also inducted into the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor following retirement.
He had seven or more sacks in every season he participated in from 1987-99, and turned out in 17 playoff games despite never securing a Super Bowl ring.
Speaking to NFL Network in 2018, Doleman reflected on his exceptional Hall of Fame career and his ongoing health concerns:
“When I was a little kid, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would ever be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I also never thought that I’d have brain cancer either.”
Chris Doleman will forever be a Minnesota Vikings legend and the football world loses one of the best individuals to ever wear a football jersey. He will be greatly missed.