INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Doleman is not one of the four Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists who won a Super Bowl. He doesn’t believe that should affect his chances of being elected to the shrine.
Nor does Troy Aikman.
Doleman terrorized quarterbacks and running backs as a defensive end for the Vikings, Falcons and 49ers for 15 seasons. He led the NFL in sacks in 1989 with 21 on his way to 150½ sacks, fourth all-time when he retired.
Unlike Charles Haley, Bill Parcells, Jerome Bettis and Ed DeBartolo Jr. among the 17 finalists who will learn Saturday if they are voted into the hall, Doleman never got to the NFL’s biggest stage.
“Yes, it can hurt me and it’s unfair, absolutely,” Doleman said Friday. “I’d like to think the voters look at this and say, ‘Let’s take the Super Bowl out of it.’ These guys were such great players that if you placed them on that particular team, would it have won the Super Bowl? Can you take a Super Bowl player and put him on a team I played on and is he a difference maker?”
As Doleman was reflecting on his career, Aikman walked by. Asked how often Doleman put him on his back, he winced and said, “Too many times. More than I care to remember. He was quite a player.”
Doleman is one of four defensive players known for their ability to knock down quarterbacks who made the final list. One of them, Charles Haley is the only player to win five Super Bowls, two with the 49ers and three with Dallas. Cortez Kennedy spent his entire 11-season career with Seattle, while Kevin Greene, one of the original hybrid linebacker-ends, played for four teams in his 15 pro seasons.
“It’s a great group,” said Doleman, who along with Reggie White and Bruce Smith was considered the class of pass rushers for several seasons. Indeed, Doleman might have been the prototype for the pass-rushing 4-3 end of today’s game: powerful but agile, able to rush with speed or overwhelm a blocker with strength.
“I would have players and coaches telling me their teams were trying to get people to copy what I was doing,” Doleman said.
The other Super Bowl winners are Ed DeBartolo Jr., who owned the 49ers when they won their five titles from 1981-94; Jerome Bettis, who concluded his 13 NFL seasons in 2006 by winning the championship with the Steelers — in the Bus’ hometown of Detroit; and Bill Parcells, who coached the Giants to their 1987 and 1991 Super Bowl victories. Parcells also took the Patriots to the 1997 game they lost to Green Bay.
Other finalists include Curtis Martin, the fourth-leading rusher in league history (14,101 yards) and one of the most dependable running backs the league has seen, and wide receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed. Carter was second in career receptions (1,101) and touchdowns (130) when he retired after the 2002 season. Brown was third with 1,094 catches when he left the game following the 2004 season.
Three powerful offensive linemen also are on the ballot: Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson and the other first-year nominee, Will Shields.
Roaf came out of Louisiana Tech, then a small college program, as a first-round draft choice and immediately became a starter for the Saints. He wound up playing in 11 Pro Bowls.
Dawson was the premier center in the NFL for most of his 13 seasons with the Steelers, making seven Pro Bowls and helping the Steelers to the 1996 Super Bowl.
Shields was a steady, no-nonsense guard for Kansas City for 14 seasons, making the league’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.
Aenaes Williams is the only defensive back in the final 17. He started 12 seasons as a cornerback, then moved to safety for his last two seasons, playing for both the Cardinals and Rams.
Senior committee nominees are Jack Butler, a Pittsburgh cornerback in the 1950s, and Dick Stanfel, an elite guard in the 1950s who won two rings with Detroit before being traded to Washington.