Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Chris Doleman Inducted to Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame


The late, great Chris Doleman on Wednesday was formally inducted to the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame during a virtual event hosted by the Star Tribune.

Doleman is one of six members of the Class of 2020, joining Natalie Darwitz (hockey), Bob McDonald (basketball), Kevin McHale (basketball), Ed Rogers (football) and Toni Stone (baseball).

Doleman — who passed away at age 58 on Jan. 28, 2020, after a courageous, two-year battle with brain cancer — was remembered as a "great friend and a fierce competitor."

View photos of Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman.

Fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former Vikings teammate John Randle spoke with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand about Doleman's legacy.

Randle described Doleman's relentless approach and commitments he made to evolve and improve his skills.

"He just had his way of telling you about things," Randle said. "He didn't have a spin move, and I remember him and [defensive line coach] John Teerlinck would talk about getting him a spin move because he had to go against Lomas Brown, who played for Detroit.

"I remember watching him, all of a sudden, first, understanding he didn't have a spin move and trying to work at it and go through the process," Randle continued. "Most guys wouldn't want to do that. Most older players do not want to change, and Chris Doleman changed and learned to get a spin move."

The No. 4 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, Doleman transitioned from linebacker to defensive end.

A prolific career followed, with Doleman blending on-field intensity and a robust personality every step of the way. He inspired teammates to do their best and commanded respect from foes who tried to slow him down.

Over the course of 15 pro seasons, including 10 with Minnesota, Doleman racked up 150.5 career sacks, which ranks fifth in NFL history.

That total includes a whopping 21 in 1989 when he led the NFL and helped Minnesota set a single-season franchise record with 71 team sacks.


The 21 sacks in one season are tied with fellow Hall of Famer Reggie White's output in 1987 for the fifth-most by a player in a single campaign and 1.5 shy of the record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan in 2001.

Mark Gastineau (with the Jets in 1984), Jared Allen (2011 with the Vikings) and Justin Houston (2014 with the Chiefs) each recorded 22 sacks for personal career highs.

The 2020 Vikings as a team finished with 23 sacks on the season.

Doleman was instrumental for three Vikings defenses (1988, 1989 and 1993) that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yards allowed.

He led the Vikings in sacks in five separate seasons and tied for the team lead once. He recorded 10-plus sacks eight times over the course of his 15 NFL seasons.

Doleman also had a penchant for stripping the ball, forcing 45 fumbles and recovering 24. He caused four or more fumbles in six separate seasons, including 1987 when he led the NFL with six.

Team success accompanied Doleman's accomplishments. He helped squads make the playoffs 10 times, including the 1987 Vikings that advanced to the NFC Championship. He earned six selections to the Pro Bowl as a Viking and two more (one as a Falcon; one as a 49er) and was a First-Team or Second-Team All-Pro selection by the Associated Press five times.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame named Doleman to the Team of the Decades for the 1990s and enshrined him on Aug. 4, 2012.

Doleman was inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor on Nov. 14, 2011, a year after he was named as one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.