MINNEAPOLIS (WHTM) – Chris Doleman, a York High School graduate who became a pro football legend and earned a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame, has died.
The Minnesota Vikings said Doleman passed away Tuesday after a courageous battle with brain cancer that lasted more than two years after its diagnosis. He was 58.
The team said Doleman “faced his unfair fight with remarkable grace and grit.”
“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,” the Vikings said in a statement. “Chris always carried himself with dignity and class. Vikings fans worldwide will greatly miss him.”
The No. 4 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, Doleman moved from linebacker to defensive end in his second pro season. He spent his first nine seasons with the Vikings, collecting 21 sacks in 1989 when he led the NFL and helped Minnesota set a franchise record with 71 team sacks.
The 21 sacks in one season are tied with fellow Hall of Famer Reggie White’s in 1987 for the fifth-most by a player and 1.5 shy of the record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan in 2001.
He spent his first nine seasons with Minnesota, leading the Vikings in sacks in five separate seasons and tying for the team lead once. He recorded 10-plus sacks eight times over the course of his 15 NFL seasons.
His 150.5 career sacks rank fifth in NFL history.
He also caused four or more fumbles in six separate seasons, including 1987 when he led the NFL with six.
He earned six selections to the Pro Bowl as a Viking and two more with Atlanta and San Francisco, and he was a First-Team or Second-Team All-Pro selection by the Associated Press five times.
He finished his career with Minnesota in 1999. The Pro Football Hall of Fame named Doleman to the Team of the Decades for the 1990s and enshrined him in 2012.
“Doleman was a true inspiration to our Bearcats,” the school district said in a statement. “His life, career, and generosity will be remembered always.”