Chris Doleman, former York High star, Pro Football Hall of Famer, dies at age 58

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch

Chris Doleman, a former York High  football standout and a Pro Football Hall of Famer,  died Tuesday at age 58 after a battle with brain cancer.

The Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Vikings announced the news early Wednesday morning.

"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, said in a statement. 

Doleman, a first-round draft pick and eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end, played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1985 to 1993 and ended his career with the team in 1999. He also played for the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.

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Vikings 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,” the Vikings said in a statement. 

“Chris always carried himself with dignity and class. Vikings fans worldwide will greatly miss him."

Doleman, who also starred at the University of Pittsburgh, compiled 150.5 sacks in a 15-year career, including 22 in 1989, when he led the NFL. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 2012.

He was named first-team All-Pro in 1987, 1989 and 1992 and first-team All-NFC four times. Doleman is a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

"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,” Baker said.

Doleman, born in Indianapolis, was a 1980 graduate of William Penn Senior High School. He died Tuesday night, according to the Vikings.

The York Revolution gave away a Chris Doleman bobblehead in 2016.

He returned to York in the fall of 2018 as part of the Hometown Hall of Fame program to honor the greatest players of the game with ceremonies and a plaque dedication at the school. 

Doleman was battling brain cancer then and said he had surgery a few months earlier to remove some tumors. 

During his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, Doleman talked about his early football career in York.

“I started playing football at 8 years old at the Boys Club in York, Pennsylvania,” Doleman said. “At that time, I wanted to be a starter on the team. Then after I was a starter, I wanted to play more.

“York was Small Town, USA. As you might imagine, high school sports was king, especially on Friday nights. Playing football was everything.”

Former York City Mayor Kim Bracey reacted to Doleman's death on Twitter on Wednesday.

"My deepest condolences to his family," she wrote.

The York Revolution, which honored Doleman with a bobblehead in 2016, also issued a statement.

“The players, coaches, and staff of the York Revolution join the sports world and all of the country in mourning the passing of NFL Hall of Famer Chris Doleman," the team said in a news release.

"(This) national treasure had a particularly special place in the heart of Yorkers, for it was here that it all started."