wreaked havoc on NFL offenses during his Hall of Fame career. Noted as devastating pass rusher, he not only sacked quarterbacks but forced fumbles and picked off passes.
Notorious for disrupting offensive attacks, Doleman forced 44 fumbles during his 232-game career. Thirty-three of his forced fumbles came in a Vikings jersey which is five more than Alan Page achieved as a member of the Vikings’ vaunted “Purple People Eaters.”
Chris’ finest year came in Minnesota’s 1989 division championship season when he led the NFL with 21 sacks, one shy of the NFL record at the time. Doleman recorded multiple sacks in a game seven times during his franchise record-setting 1989 season. He capped the memorable season with a career-high four sacks of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason in the season finale on Christmas Day.
Doleman tied his personal best with four sacks while with the San Francisco 49ers in a 31-0 drubbing of the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 11, 1998. His performance was called out by fellow Class of 2012 enshrinee Willie Roaf. The big tackle shared his disappointment in the Saints performance but nevertheless commented, “Doleman had a great day, especially up front.”
A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Doleman did more than just sack quarterbacks during his career. He also intercepted eight passes—two of which he returned for touchdowns—recorded two safeties, and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone. Doleman’s team never lost in games in which he scored a touchdown.
His two career pick-sixes came six years apart but both were off of passes thrown by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Steve DeBerg. Doleman’s first touchdown off an interception covered 59 yards in the Vikings’ Week 2 win over the Bucs in 1986. Then, on Nov. 8, 1992, Chris picked off DeBerg and ran it back 27 yards in Minnesota’s 35-7 victory.
Doleman appeared in the playoffs in each of his final five seasons with three different teams. Following a playoff berth with the Atlanta Falcons in 1995, Doleman reached the postseason the next three years with the San Francisco 49ers. In his last season in San Francisco, he recorded 15 sacks, the second most in his 15-year career. He returned to Minnesota for his final season in 1999 and registered eight sacks to help the Vikings earn a Wild Card berth.
“Doleman was someone you always had to worry about because you knew he could get to the quarterback. The amount of time and attention that went to preparing for benefitted the others guys on those defensive lines. He was one of those guys that you had to make sure could be blocked in one way or another.” - Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon
“ had the ability to deliver the big play when you needed it. Teams had to keep an eye on him because they knew it was coming, be it in the beginning, middle or end of the game. He was capable of making that big play.” - Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle
“Certainly Chris has been worthy of this honor for a long time. His sack numbers are just a part of it. … 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.” - former Minnesota Vikings Director of Pro Scouting Paul Wiggin
“He was a true leader on the field. Chris was relentless in his attack and he was an unselfish player. … In my opinion, to be a great player you have to be able to do everything well…and Chris did them extremely well.” - Hall of Fame guard Randall McDaniel
“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.” - Minnesota Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf
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