NFL Hall of Famer Chris Doleman Passes away at the Age of 58

Pro Football Hall of Famer and Former Pitt Panther Chris Doleman (Photo Credit: University of Pittsburgh Football Twitter)

                    All-Time Pitt Football Great Chris Doleman Passes Away


PITTSBURGH—Chris Doleman, a star defensive end at Pitt from 1981-84 who went on to a Hall of Fame career as a dominant pass rusher in the NFL, has passed away. He was 58.

While at Pitt, Doleman displayed the athletic and ferocious style that would characterize his pro career. An immediate starter upon his arrival from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1981, he would be a vital part of some of the greatest defenses in school history.

Doleman finished his college career third all-time at Pitt with 25 sacks, a total that still ranks eighth nearly four decades later. He played in the Sugar, Cotton and Fiesta bowl games, while helping the Panthers earn three Top 20 finishes, including a No. 2 ranking in 1981 and No. 9 finish in 1982.

As a senior, Doleman was elected a Pitt tri-captain with linebacker Troy Benson and offensive tackle Bill Fralic. In addition to his immense athletic gifts, the 6-foot-5 Doleman also set a standard with his desire and relentless play.


The late Foge Fazio, Doleman’s defensive coordinator in 1981 before serving as head coach from 1982-85, said: “Sometimes we’ll stop the game film just to point out to the team Chris’ desire and hustle to get there.”


The fourth-overall pick of the 1985 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Doleman played 15 seasons in the NFL and holds status as one of the most productive pass rushers of all time. A defensive end and outside linebacker, he was an eight-time Pro Bowler, earning six berths as a member of the Vikings and one each as a member of the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.


He was a first team All-Pro three times and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. Upon his retirement in 1999, Doleman’s 150.5 career sacks ranked fourth in league history and he was tied for third with eight seasons in which he recorded 10 or more sacks.


Doleman received his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2012.


“I had only been at Pitt for a few months when I first met Chris and he could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about the University of Pittsburgh,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzisaid. “It was obvious that he took great pride in being a Panther. I remember we had him as our honorary captain when we played at Georgia Tech one year and he was so energetic with our kids. You know he wanted to put on that Pitt helmet one more time. Our deepest sympathies to the Doleman family. His passing is a great loss for all of us, but his memory and legacy, on and off the field, will never be forgotten.”


(This story courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh Athletics)