The Pitt football community lost one of its greats on Tuesday, as former Panthers defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman died at the age of 58.
Doleman touched many lives in his time after football, including new Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, who Doleman embraced enthusiastically as Pitt’s new head coach back in 2015.
“I had only been at Pitt for a few months when I first met Chris and he could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about the University of Pittsburgh,” Narduzzi said in a press release. “It was obvious that he took great pride in being a Panther.”
Forever grateful for Chris Doleman’s friendship and support. On and off the field, he led a Hall of Fame life! Our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/T3nB8K2gkL
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) January 29, 2020
“I remember we had him as our honorary captain when we played at Georgia Tech one year and he was so energetic with our kids. You know he wanted to put on that Pitt helmet one more time. Our deepest sympathies to the Doleman family. His passing is a great loss for all of us, but his memory and legacy, on and off the field, will never be forgotten.”
— Tony Dorsett (@Tony_Dorsett) January 29, 2020
Doleman, who went on to a 15-year NFL career, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, mentioned his time with the Panthers at his induction ceremony in 2012.
I met Chris Doleman a week before his HOF induction. I was starstruck & blurted out “Hail to Pitt!” He smiled & replied “Hail to Pitt” & then blessed me by becoming my friend and #Pitt Big Brother. We lost a gentle giant whose heart was bigger than him. RIP #56 #H2P pic.twitter.com/PArg2hPMCb
— Kellie Burkett (@KellieBwpxi) January 29, 2020
“I was blessed with great coaching by remarkable men: Jackie Sherrill, Foge Fazio, Joe Moore,” Doleman said in Canton, Ohio in 2012. “They challenged me every day. They brought the best out of me; things that I never even knew that I had inside me. … With my time at Pitt, the program prepared me for the next level, the National Football League.”
Honorary captain tomorrow, Chris Doleman.
'84 captain, #4 overall pick in '85 Draft, 150.5 NFL sacks (#4 all-time),
8x Pro Bowler, Pro HOFer pic.twitter.com/RoBPk8SCFQ
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) September 23, 2017
Fazio, who was Doleman’s first defensive coordinator at Pitt and later became head coach, once said, “Sometimes we’ll stop the game film just to point out to the team Chris’ desire and hustle to get there.”