Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. Chosen by the Hall’s Board of Selectors, Doleman joins 10 former Vikings who have also earned the prestigious honor. Doleman will be enshrined in Canton on Aug. 4, 2012, along with center Dermontti Dawson, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, running back Curtis Martin, tackle Willie Roaf, and cornerback Jack Butler.
This is the fifth time in the last seven years that the Vikings have had a former player elected to the Hall of Fame (Chris Doleman-2012, John Randle-2010, Randall McDaniel-2009, Gary Zimmerman-2008, Warren Moon-2006).
Doleman received the highest honor the team could bestow upon an individual when he was inducted as the 19th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor on Oct. 23, 2011.
“Having watched Chris enter the Vikings Ring of Honor this past season, we’re very excited that he has now been chosen as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012,” said Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf, via Vikings press release. “Chris was a very important part of the organization’s success for 10 years and his accomplishments on the field speak for themselves. He has earned this honor and we look forward to celebrating his enshrinement in Canton in August.”
Doleman was selected by the Vikings with the fourth overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft as a linebacker out of the University of Pittsburgh. Doleman later made the move to defensive end towards the end of his second NFL season and went on to lead the Vikings in sacks six times. Doleman had 10 or more sacks eight times in his career and his total of 150.5 sacks ranks fourth all-time in NFL history. In 1989, he led the NFL with 21.0 sacks, the fourth-most in a single season in league history. Doleman’s ability to strip the football was legendary, as he notched 45 career forced fumbles and recovered 24 fumbles.
A player of Doleman’s caliber should have been enshrined years ago. However, Doleman is finally immortalized.
“Certainly Chris has been worthy of this honor for a long time,” said Paul Wiggin, former Vikings defensive line coach. “His sack numbers are just a part of it. Even more impressive, he had what we referred to as a ‘hat trick,’ which was the sack, the strip of the ball and the recovery of the fumble; probably more so than anybody in football, including Reggie White.
“There’s probably no player that had more speed combined with body lean as far as being an outside rusher,” he continued. “He had incredible balance and body control to be able to stay on his feet and arch himself back into the quarterback, which was how he was able to create so many fumbles and big plays.”
For 15 years performing on the highest level of football, Doleman only endured three losing seasons and his teams appeared in the playoffs 10 times. He appeared in the playoffs in each of his final five seasons with three different teams (Atlanta, 1995; San Francisco, 1996-98; Minnesota, 1999). Doleman was known as a very durable player, suiting up for 232 of 237 games in his career. Doleman was named a Pro Bowler eight times, six with the Vikings and one each as a member of the Falcons and 49ers. Doleman was named first-team All-Pro three times and first-team All-NFC four times. He is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s