ADVERTISEMENT

Former Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman’s life changed drastically after being elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. He has spent much of the ensuing time speaking about his enshrinement, including meeting with the press Thursday in Eden Prairie.

David Brewster, Star Tribune

Chris Doleman had 150½ sacks in his career, including this one of Houston’s Warren Moon, who eventually played for the Vikings.

Jim Mone, Associated Press

Hall of Famer Doleman still rushing

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG
  • Star Tribune
  • February 10, 2012 - 6:43 AM

There's a consensus among Pro Football Hall of Famers that Year 1 in this exclusive club is pretty much a blur from the moment one's name is announced in February until the last tear trickles away on enshrinement day six months later.

A case in point came Thursday at Winter Park when Chris Doleman, the Vikings' newest Hall of Famer, had to pause during a recap of his wild week to ask reporters the question that pretty much sums up the whirlwind he's been twirling around in since hearing his name called on Saturday evening.

"What is today?" Doleman asked. "Thursday?"

Doleman's disorientation becomes understandable when the former defensive end starts explaining what he's been through since he heard his name called Saturday evening. An avalanche of emotion crashed headlong into a tsunami of well-wishers, interview requests and a to-do list from the Hall of Fame that's about 1 1/2 inches thick.

The journey as Chris Doleman, Pro Football Hall of Famer, began about 5 p.m. Saturday in Indianapolis, site of the selection meeting and the Super Bowl the following day.

"There are a couple things that happen when you see your name come up on that screen," Doleman said. "You get a couple of calls. Then your phone just literally goes into some kind of convulsions."

Phone calls. Texts. E-mails. All pouring in at the same time.

"They were coming in pages, not one at a time," Doleman said. "You'd clock 150 of them and turn it off. And you'd turn it back on and it would clock another 100. It was unbelievable.

''At that point in time, I knew that something big had happened because everybody I had ever met in my life was sending me some kind of communication."

Doleman, who had 150 1/2 sacks for the Vikings, Falcons and 49ers between 1985 and 1999, spent Sunday at the Super Bowl with his fellow Class of 2012 members. Then it was time to get to work learning what the life of a rookie Hall of Famer will be like over the next six months.

Doleman spent Monday morning with Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little (Class of 2010) and his wife.

"They explained what does it really mean to them and what it will mean to you," Doleman said. "You start right away breaking down things to do."

The rookie class spent two days in meetings at an Indianapolis hotel Monday and Tuesday. Tammy Owens, an executive assistant at the Hall of Fame, opened things up by telling the new members that the enshrinement process "Is like planning a wedding."

Monday's meeting started at 4 p.m. and went until close to 11. Dinner was brought in. Tuesday's meeting started at 8 a.m. and went until about 1 p.m.

"You're looking at invitations, guest lists, parties, food, the whole shooting match, speech, I mean the whole shooting match," Doleman said. "It takes a long time to go through it. They give you a book about this thick. About an inch and a half thick. And they go through it page by page by page. How you coordinate who's coming from where. It's a mess, to be honest with you."

Doleman drove home to Atlanta on Wednesday, where he spent 14 hours before boarding a plane for Minnesota and another round of reporters tugging at him from every angle.

"I've been talking so much to the point where I've lost my voice," Doleman said. "Every radio station, every national radio station on Sirius, XM, I've done. I was doing an interview on an internet station last night and I think I had to call in or they called me at like 10:15. Everybody wants a piece of you right now. ... It's just non-stop."

Doleman couldn't be happier. But he's also looking forward to Year 2 as a Hall of Famer.

"The HOF [title] is wonderful, but they say you really enjoy it the second year more than the first year because you're constantly doing these types of things," Doleman said. "When I would give my opinion before, it was just a player's opinion. Now, it's a Hall of Famer's opinion. And I'm the same guy.

"I'm still trying to get a feel for what all this means. You really can't get your arms around it."

© 2014 Star Tribune