Chris Doleman left a legacy in Minnesota. The NFL Hall of Famer spent nine of his 15 NFL seasons with the Vikings. He had three All-Pro seasons with Minnesota and has been inducted into the team's Ring of Honor.
Adrian Peterson's path to securing a similar place in Vikings lore has taken considerable detours the past year. In September, Peterson was indicted in Montgomery County, Texas, for reckless or negligent injury to his son. In November, Peterson pleaded no contest to recklessly assaulting his son.
Although the NFL reinstated Peterson in February, his relationship with the Vikings has been delicate. Last week, Peterson went on a Twitter rant against NFL contracts, only to reverse course and attend Vikings OTAs as he tries to regain form after playing in only one game in 2014.
Doleman, who describes himself as a mentor to Peterson, believes in the former NFL MVP.
"It's a slippery slope, but I know that Adrian Peterson is a decent citizen," Doleman says. "This isn't something that will define him. He's going to come back and he's going to do what he has to do to show the fans and the National Football League that he is the guy that people once thought he was."
It is no secret that teams around the NFL, notably Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys, would be interested acquiring Peterson, if the Vikings were to have a change of heart and choose to part ways with him. Doleman believes both teams would be making a mistake because the Vikings need a running back and Peterson needs the support he can get in Minnesota.
"If that position (running back) is being devalued so much now, and Minnesota wants you, that's probably the best place for you to go," Doleman says. "If you go to Dallas or some other place, you're the best running back in the National Football League, what makes you think they'll treat you any better? You may have a lot of blocking assignments. That will definitely kill your Hall of Fame endeavors or it might take a lot longer than if you stayed in Minnesota."
Doleman says that he, along with other Vikings alumni, have not been in contact with Peterson during the past year. Peterson spent most his time home in Texas dealing with lawyers and repairing his image. When Doleman does encounter Peterson again in Minnesota, he plans on offering advice.
Doleman believes Peterson will need the emotional support of his teammates and that Vikings' fans won't give him much trouble.
"I think he'll be accepted wonderfully," Doleman says. "He's put in a lot of great years there. There are a lot of things that have happened. There are a lot of things that players have done. He'll be all right."
Doleman predicts Peterson's return will bring a improvement beyond the rushing game. He sees Peterson's presence as a way to open up the field for 22-year-old quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is headed into his second pro season.
"I think he'll have a great year this year, which also will make the quarterback position much more efficient," Doleman says. "Now, we can see Bridgewater playing in the shadows of a Russell Wilson type and if you don't have it, make the play with your legs."
Outside of the Vikings, Doleman has another former team taking a big step in 2015. The Pittsburgh Panthers, who groomed Doleman into the fourth pick in the 1985 NFL draft, made a coaching change this offseason. With Paul Chryst on the move to Wisconsin, the Panthers brought in long-time Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
"We really need to get back to old Pittsburgh football," Doleman says. "I'm preying that Pat will have a great opportunity to show what he can do to at least get this program back into the national spotlight and not just be a filler on someone's schedule."
Doleman's 25 sacks are good for sixth on the Panthers' all-time list, and he played in a Sugar Bowl, a Cotton Bowl and a Fiesta Bowl. Since Doleman's departure, the school has made just one "College Football Playoff" level bowl (or BCS, however one would like to say it) -- the 2005 Fiesta Bowl -- a 35-7 loss to Utah.
Doleman, like many other Pittsburgh alumni, expects the future to rebuild the past.
"There are too many great players that have gone through the doors of the University of Pittsburgh to treat this organization like it is a second-tier team," he says. "The likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis, all the guys, the [Dan] Marinos and Rickey Jacksons. Guys who were playing to make the Hall of Fame came there. We know we can get talent. We know he's a great coach. Now, we got to get better."
Although Doleman's football career is over, his work in media is just a few years old. The 53-year-old is currently the Executive Vice President of Business Development for the Fantasy Sports Network (FNTSY), a television network devoted to fantasy sports launched in March 2014. Doleman also has an ownership stake in the network.
Doleman got the gig through Lou Maione, Chief Strategy Officer of Anthem Media Group, Inc., which founded FNTSY.
"[Lou] said we need someone who can relate to the players and talk to the players," Doleman says. "He told them we got the perfect guy for you. They threw my name in there and we had a little talk, a short-term agreement and one thing led to another and I became a part of the program."
Doleman views fantasy sports as adding a whole new dimension to the sports world. Off the field, fantasy sports, notably football, has provided a new form of economic endeavors for players and viewing pleasures for fans.
"The value is huge," he says. "It speaks for itself. I think to be able to have the ability to one, track a player and a player's success and how they perform on a daily basis in a game situation, I think that's pretty important information. If you're trying to use a guy who's maybe not the star of your team, but he's a guy that has tons of Facebook or Twitter followers on the fantasy side, those are economic opportunities to him."
Recently, Doleman spent some time promoting the network in Chicago. In the Windy City, FNTSY used 40 of the top fantasy experts in the world to analyze the fantasy value of various Bears. Perhaps not surprising, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett were considered among the top fantasy producers, while Bears quarterback Jay Cutler fell in the second half.
"Your quarterback is your quarterback. You live and die with that," Doleman says, speaking of both Cutler's presence with the Bears and on fantasy teams.
Going even deeper into Doleman's post Hall of Fame football life, he is the creator of Dolemanity, a an organization that supports the fundraising and fan engagement efforts of non-profits supported by celebrities, professional athletes, music performers and corporate brands.
Currently, Dolemanity has focused on a campaign called "Remembering the 22" with the Warriors For Freedom Foundation. Remember the 22 is meant to raise awareness for soldiers who take their own lives due to post-traumatic stress or other mental or physical health issues resulting from their service. The campaign asks individuals to post selfies onto social media with the hashtag #Rememberingthe22 and to donate $22 or more for the cause.
Doleman currently resides in Atlanta, where he played for the Falcons in 1994 and 1995.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.