Hall of Fame Defensive End Chris Doleman Dead at Age 58

Doleman died following a battle with brain cancer that lasted for more than two years

Hall of Fame Minnesota Viking Dead at Age 58
Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Getty Images

Following a battle with brain cancer that lasted for more than two years after he was diagnosed, Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman died Tuesday night at the age of 58.

Doleman played for nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He wrapped up his career in Minneapolis in 1999 and was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2011.

The team and its ownership released the following statement about 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.”

Picked No. 4 overall in the 1985 draft out of Pittsburgh as a linebacker, Doleman made the transition to defensive end in his second pro season. The move paid off, as Doleman racked up 150.5 sacks over the course of his career, fifth in NFL history.

Doleman’s best year was 1989, when he recorded an NFL-best 21 sacks and helped Minnesota set a franchise record with 71 team sacks.

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Chris Doleman after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer,” said Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker. “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.”

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