EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- When Chris Doleman received the news that he was headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he said he went numb and didn't hear the names of the players who were called after him. It still hasn't sunk in nearly a week later.
"I'm still trying to get a feel for what all this means," the former Minnesota Vikings defensive end said Thursday. "You really can't get your arms around it."
Doleman spent 10 of his 15 NFL seasons in Minnesota, including the first nine after the Vikings drafted him in the first round out of Pittsburgh in 1985.
Doleman was drafted as a linebacker, but made the switch to defensive end in his second season. "When I moved to that position, it felt like home," he said.
But it took Doleman seven years of eligibility before he finally heard the call from Canton. He was a semifinalist in his first few years of eligibility, was not among the finalists considered last year in Dallas, then finally broke through this year.
"I know that I appreciate it more now than I would have appreciated it when I was, let's just say 38 or 40 years old," said Doleman, who will turn 51 in October.
Doleman said it's been a whirlwind ever since he got the news on Saturday. He's been flying around the country to various planning meetings, doing interviews until his voice wouldn't work anymore and trying to figure out who will be on the guest list. And then there were the phone calls, emails and text messages he received on Saturday night.
"It was like your phone goes into some type of convulsion," he said.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press