Former NFL running back Merril Hoge is an analyst for a variety of ESPN programs, including NFL Live, NFL Matchup, NFL PrimeTime and SportsCenter. He also contributes insight and analysis to ESPN’s annual Super Bowl and NFL Draft coverage and appears on multiple platforms, including ESPN Radio and ESPN.com. Hoge, who joined ESPN in 1996 as a game analyst and sideline reporter for ESPN2’s college football coverage, also called Arena Football League telecasts in 2007 and in the late 1990s.
An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent 1987-93 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was the team’s starting running back for six of those seasons. He set the team record for most receptions by a running back, totaling 50 in 1988 and was one of only two Steelers to rush for more than 100 yards in back-to-back playoff games. He concluded his career in 1995 with the Chicago Bears after suffering a series of concussions. At the time of his retirement, Hoge had played in 122 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL at that time.
A 1987 graduate of Idaho State University with a degree in education and minor in health and fitness, Hoge set 11 school records, including both single-season and career marks for rushing attempts, rushing yards, and all-purpose yards. He also scored 44 touchdowns, a Big Sky Conference record.
Outside of his television work, Hoge is Chairman and a member of the board of the Highmark Caring Foundation, which has created four centers in Pennsylvania (downtown and suburban Pittsburgh, Erie and Harrisburg) for grieving children, adolescents and their families who have lost loved ones. The foundation is particularly meaningful to Hoge, who lost his mother when he was just 21 years old.
Hoge, who battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2003, received the Chairman’s Advocacy Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2004 and 2008 for his outstanding participation in driving awareness for LLS and its mission. Hoge also had open heart surgery on October 5, 2015, and since then has worked with the American Heart Association.
Active in concussion research and in the prevention and treatment of brain injuries, Hoge testified at a congressional hearing on head injuries in football in the fall of 2009, and he was appointed to the NFL MTBI Committee, which initiates research and advises the NFL on best practices for concussion prevention and management in January 2010. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also asked Hoge in 2011 to serve on the NFL’s Return-to-Play Subcommittee which deals with head, neck and spine cases.
In September 2010, Hoge released his first book, “Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life,” about the philosophy that has guided him and enabled him to overcome obstacles throughout his life. He also participated in the NFL-USO Tour to Afghanistan with Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, visiting troops overseas in March 2011 and has been a part of the USA Football Advisory Committee since 2014.