The Minnesota Vikings and Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker offered their condolences in separate statements late Tuesday night. There was no word on the timing of Doleman's death, but he had surgery in January 2018 to remove a brain tumor and Baker said he passed away "after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer."
Doleman, an Indianapolis native, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
According to a 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame report, during his senior year at William Penn High School in York, Pennsylvania, Doleman decided to sign with Temple University. That all changed when he was recruited by the University of Pittsburgh.
"I was never known as the high school All-America type," Doleman said at the time. "I only had one honor in high school that was all-state. But I played in the Big 33 game...Jackie Sherrill (University of Pittsburgh head football coach) saw me and said I was the best player out there. Pitt started recruiting me heavier after that game."
According to the Hall of Fame, Sherrill convinced Doleman to reconsider the Temple offer and attend Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne in 1981.
Doleman went on to play college ball for Pittsburgh before he was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft. He spent his first nine seasons with the Vikings, collecting a league-high 21 sacks in 1989.
"I had the honor of getting to know him not only as a great football player but an outstanding human being," Baker said. "One of the honors of my life was witnessing Chris get baptized in the Jordan River during a Hall of Fame trip to Israel. 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 6-foot-5 Doleman also played for Atlanta and San Francisco before finishing his career with Minnesota in 1999. He had 150 1/2 sacks in 232 games. He was a first-team All-Pro selection on two occasions, and also made eight Pro Bowls.
"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. "Chris always carried himself with dignity and class. Vikings fans worldwide will greatly miss him."
We express our deepest sympathies to Chris Doleman’s family and friends upon his passing. pic.twitter.com/4smc4gn5PY— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 29, 2020
The Associated Press contributed to this report.