|Born:||January 26, 1965|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||212 lb (96 kg)|
|High school:||Highland (Pocatello, Idaho)|
|NFL Draft:||1987 / Round: 10 / Pick: 261|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Merril DuAine Hoge (; born January 26, 1965) is a former professional American football player, who currently serves as a head coach for Your Call Football. He played eight seasons at running back for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, retiring after the 1994 season. Since 1996 he had been a football analyst for ESPN television. Hoge, along with fellow longtime NFL Matchup analyst Ron Jaworski, were fired after wide ESPN cuts in April 2017.
Hoge was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho. After graduating from Highland High School in 1983, he stayed in town to play college football for the Idaho State University in the Big Sky Conference. Hoge was a three-time all-conference selection at running back. In 1985, Hodge set an NCAA record with 2,113 all-purpose yards, an average of 192.1 per game, including a school record 1,041 rushing yards. He finished his college career with an NCAA record 5,453 all-purpose yards and 31 touchdowns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Hoge in the 10th round of the 1987 NFL Draft with the 261st pick overall. After seven seasons with the Steelers, Hoge signed with the Chicago Bears in 1994, but played in only five games with six carries and 13 receptions.
During a road game in 1994 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Hoge suffered a concussion and, five days later, the team doctor approved him to resume playing during a telephone call without examining him to determine if he had recovered; he was still suffering post-concussion symptoms.
Hoge sustained another concussion several weeks later, and had to be resuscitated after he stopped breathing. He spent 48 hours in the intensive-care unit and was forced to retire due to brain injury. Hoge had to learn to read again and experienced memory loss, confusion and headaches. He later sued the Bears team doctor and won a $1.55 million judgment. Steelers team physician, neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, had established a baseline for evaluating cognitive effects of concussions, so when Hoge continued to experience impairment after several weeks, he returned to Dr. Maroon for a new evaluation. Maroon's team found a "marked disparency [sic]", informing Hoge that further concussions would risk permanent brain damage. Upon receiving this information, Hoge retired.
In his career, Hoge gained 3,139 rushing yards and 2,133 receiving yards, scoring 34 touchdowns. While playing fullback in the Steelers offense, he scored 10 touchdowns in 1990.
In 1996, Hoge was hired as an on-air analyst for ESPN. Hoge is a well-known short-tie aficionado.
Hoge was laid off from ESPN in May 2017. In December 2017 "Your Call Football", a fan play-calling competition, hired Hoge as one of its two football coaches, joining former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman.
Hoge injured his shoulder in an automobile accident in June 2002 and had an operation to repair a torn ligament. During an examination six months after surgery, Hoge told his doctor, Jim Bradley, also the Steelers' team physician, about a recurring back pain. Bradley began ordering tests to determine the cause. On February 14, 2003, Hoge was diagnosed with stage II Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He had the first of six chemotherapy treatments on February 28.
It is destroyable, it is beatable. You have everything in you to do it. The mind is a powerful thing. There is no doubt, come May, I'll be cancer free; five years after that, I'll be cured. Fifty years or whatever time I have left after that, it will be the platform I stand for. I'll be a better man. This has been a blessing.
On October 31, 2015, one month after he had surgery to repair an enlarged aorta, Merril Hoge returned at work at ESPN on NFL Matchup.
Hoge lives in Fort Thomas, Kentucky with his son Beau (born 1997) and daughter Kori (born 1993). Fort Thomas is a suburb of Campbell County, Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. Fellow retired NFL player, Cris Collinsworth, also calls Ft Thomas, KY home. When Hoge was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, his wife Toni, who had previously resided there, did not want to live in Pittsburgh. Accordingly, he deferred to her choice and Fort Thomas became their home. Toni and Merril are now divorced. Beau is a freshman quarterback at Brigham Young University while Hoge's nephew, Tristen Hoge, is a freshman on the Notre Dame football team.
His mother died when he was 19.