VIKINGS: New NFL Hall of Famer Chris Doleman appreciative
ST. PAUL After eight years of waiting, Chris Doleman is finally in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former Vikings defensive end plans to savor the moment, once he finally collects his thoughts. And catches up on sleep. Since Saturday's announc...
After eight years of waiting, Chris Doleman is finally in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The former Vikings defensive end plans to savor the moment, once he finally collects his thoughts.
And catches up on sleep.
Since Saturday's announcement of his induction, Doleman has logged a total of 14 hours in his Atlanta home, spending most of the past six days on a whirlwind media tour and going through Hall of Fame orientation.
"I've been talking so much, to a point where I've lost my own voice," Doleman said Thursday at a news conference the Vikings held in his honor.
Doleman joins Curtis Martin, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson and senior selection Jack Butler in the 2012 class, which will be inducted Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
Former Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter was bypassed for a fifth consecutive year of eligibility despite 130 career touchdown catches and eight Pro Bowls.
Doleman entered last weekend's announcement prepared for anything, even the emotional letdown of another year without making the cut.
But he always believed the Hall would call his name eventually, given his place in history as fourth all time in sacks with 150-1/2 over a 15-year career with the Vikings (1985-93, 1999), Falcons (1994-95) and 49ers (1996-98). Doleman's 21 sacks in 1989 stood in the Vikings' record book for 22 years until Jared Allen recorded 22 sacks in 2011.
"If you're in the top five of something, you kind of figure you're in some
pretty elite company," said Doleman, 50. "You feel it's going to happen for you. I didn't want to wait eight or nine years. But it took me seven years. I know I appreciate it more now than I would have when I was, let's just say 38 or 40 years old. You're much more mature; you understand what this all means. The Hall affords you an opportunity that very, very few people get a chance to experience."
Every year, the Hall of Fame selection process sparks debate about which finalists were snubbed.
Doleman faced enough rejection from the Hall's selection committee over the years to empathize with Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown, who make up a logjam at wide receiver that can't seem to gain momentum among voters.
The Hall of Fame includes 21 wide receivers, fewer than any position save tight end, punter and kicker. Meanwhile, the Hall has honored at least one defensive lineman in each of the past five classes.
Doleman said the selection committee -- composed of 44 media members from across the country -- does a "fairly decent" job with an arduous task.
"I feel sorry for those guys; I really do," Doleman said of the three receivers. "I was there. Imagine you're going to a place and they say, 'Hey, look, you're a finalist,' and you get down there and they say, 'Well, we're not going to consider you. You're just a finalist.'...I thank God they chose me. It's a very humbling process."
Doleman said he's noticed the committee greatly values Super Bowls in the criteria.
"But you also have to consider if you take that player and put him in an environment that's not as productive, then take the nonproductive environment player and put him in the productive environment, how good would that team be?" Doleman said. "There's just a lot of variables that you have to consider."
Doleman's induction into the Hall only grows his legend in Minnesota, where one of his former coaches is still in awe of his ability.
Paul Wiggin, Doleman's former defensive line coach and now a personnel consultant with the team, said his 45 forced fumbles were "unheard of" in the modern game.
Coaching Doleman was easy, Wiggin said.
"If you have a goose that lays golden eggs, you don't mess with the goose," Wiggin said.
Distributed by MCT Information Services