NFL Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who played 15 seasons as a professional football player, died Tuesday night after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 58.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the news Wednesday, remembering the former athlete as “not only a great football player but an outstanding human being,” the statement read per ESPN.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Chris Doleman after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer,” David Baker, the Hall of Fame’s president and CEO, wrote. Doleman’s fight with cancer began in 2018 when the athlete had to have surgery to remove a brain tumor.
“One of the honors of my life was witnessing Chris get baptized in the Jordan River during a Hall of Fame trip to Israel,” Baker added. “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.”
The Minnesota Vikings — who drafted Doleman in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft — also sent their condolences after hearing about Doleman’s passing.
“The Minnesota Vikings express our deepest sympathies to Chris Doleman’s family and friends upon his passing,” the team shared in a statement. “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.”
Last night we lost a legend.— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 29, 2020
You will be missed, Chris. pic.twitter.com/78FbCayGaW
According to ESPN, the Indianapolis native spent the majority of his athletic career with the Vikings. He played on the team from 1985 to 1993 and finished his career with the team as an eight-time Pro Bowler in 1999.
Doleman, who started out playing football for Pittsburgh, also played two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and three with the San Francisco 49ers, totaling 975 combined tackles and 150.5 sacks across his 15-season career, according to NBC News.
Doleman played in 17 postseason games, though he never made it to a Super Bowl.
In 2011, he was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor and in 2012, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.