As a graduate of Idaho State University with a degree in Education and a minor in Health and Fitness, Merril Hoge was a four year football starter, set 44 school and conference records, 22 of them still intact, and still holds two NCAA football records.
Mr. Hoge was drafted in 1987 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played until 1993 and led the team in rushing and receiving in four of his first five years, setting a record in his third year for receptions by a running back. He is one of only two Steelers players to rush for more than 100 yards in back-to-back playoff games (the other being Franco Harris). He was Steelers Iron Man of the Year two years in a row (1989 and 1990), and was named to the All-Madden team in 1989. In 1993, Mr. Hoge went to the Chicago Bears as a free agent, where he played for two years, until he was forced to retire early due to post-concussion syndrome. At the time of his retirement, Mr. Hoge had the longest consecutive playing streak in the NFL.
In 1995, Mr. Hoge joined ESPN as a football analyst, where he currently works with Ron Jaworski and Suzy Kolber on the highly acclaimed EA Sports NFL Match Up show, which is the only show that uses and studies coaches’ tape to provide an inside look at the game. Mr. Hoge has distinguished himself through his in-depth knowledge of both offense and defense and his strong relationships with the coaches and players in the National Football League. Mr. Hoge is also an analyst for NFL Tonight that airs on ESPN television, and co-hosts The NFL on ESPN Radio.
Mr. Hoge has been a sought-after speaker on such subjects as Life In the NFL; Health and Fitness; and Setting and Attaining Your Personal Goals.
Since being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and beating it, there has been a greater demand for Mr. Hoge to present on such subjects as Dealing With Adversity; Overcoming Obstacles; the Power of the Mind and the Body; How To Use Adversity To Become a Better Person; and Finding Peace In Your Life.
Since his playing days, Mr. Hoge has been on the Board of the Caring Foundation, and is currently Chairman of the Board.
The Caring Foundation’s initial program targeted uninsured children, and became a model for Pennsylvania and the nation—a model which last year covered more than 5.8 million children nationally through the CHIP program.
Mr. Hoge has been a long-time Co-Captain of the very successful Caring Team for Children, a partnership between more than 200 schools in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Caring Foundation, Highmark, and local and national corporations. With Pittsburgh Steelers players Hines Ward and Mark Bruener, Mr. Hoge has also headed up for eleven years the Hoge Bruener Ward Celebrity Golf Classic for Children; both initiatives serve to raise funds and awareness for the programs of the Caring Foundation.
The Caring Foundation has also created three centers for grieving children, adolescents and their families, called the Highmark Caring Place, located in Pittsburgh, Erie, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They are of particular meaning to Mr. Hoge, having lost his own mother when he was 19, and seeing the effect it had on his 14-year-old brother.
Most importantly, Merril Hoge has built his foundation around his family—his wife Toni, daughter Kori, and son Beau. His vision is to help all children know their value and importance, helping them to grow up healthy and whole.
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