MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hall of Famer Chris Doleman died last night after a courageous battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 58-years-old.
Doleman was a major part of the Vikings defense in the 80's and 90's, making 8 Pro Bowls.
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
"He was hell on wheels. He had moves that offensive lineman would have nightmares about," said Mark Rosen, former WCCO sports director.
On the field, Doleman was a stand-out among stand-outs. But to his friends and family he wasn't just a Hall of Fame player, but a Hall of Fame person. Former teammates who are in Miami for Super Bowl week reflected on Doleman's death, including Greg Coleman.
"My wife called me last night to give me the news and I was just numb," said Coleman. "It was just like one big family and this is the loss of a brother."
"Just his big smile, his big grin, his big laugh. Big man. But really gentle off the football field," said Rosen.
Doleman was a frequent guest of Rosen's on his Rosen's Sports Sunday show.
When reporters traveled with the team the two would sometimes sit by each other on the plane. For Rosen, the news hits close to home as his wife Denise is battling a similar form of cancer. A couple of days ago he reached out to Doleman after he posted an update about his cancer battle.
"I shot him right back and said, hey man, I'm with you 100%'. I got goosebumps but I'm going, hey, my wife is going through the same thing. Strength in numbers. That was it. That was the last correspondence I had with him," said Rosen.
The last WCCO interview with the Hall of Famer occurred two years ago when we talked with Doleman shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer.
"What have you learned through all of this?" Mike Max asked him. "Resiliency and the power of prayer," Doleman said.
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