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Where Are They Now - Merrill Hoge


Where Are They Now?



Resides inFort Thomas, Kentucky


What is your current job and what does it entail?

I have a development company in Idaho I started about five years ago. We deal mainly in residential, but I am getting involved in commercial. It's started to evolve into a building company. It's primarily a West thing for me. I have another company where we build car washes in Ohio and Kentucky. We are looking into moving into Pennsylvania too. Those are two business ventures that I have gotten into. It's been exiting. I enjoy doing it.

I am also the Chairman of the Board for the Caring Place in Pittsburgh. I have a lot going on with that. I do a lot of speaking. I am also in the process of writing a book. And of course I do work for ESPN.


What is the fondest memory from your playing career?

Two things pop into my head. One was the day I showed up in the Steelers locker room and it was announced the locker I was in used to be Franco Harris'. The guy next to me was Donnie Shell. And the first coach I met in the locker room was Joe Greene. My football life as a kid flashed before. My two favorite teams when I was a kid were Pittsburgh and Chicago. Playing with guys I had watched was overwhelming. My next one was when we played the Bears the second preseason game my rookie year and I got to meet Walter Payton. It was the highlight of my career. For him to be as classy a guy as I envisioned was rare. I got to know him a lot better when I went to Chicago and played.


What was your best game?

I think the best one was against the Houston Oilers in the playoffs on the road. My rookie year started with Chuck Noll and Gerry Glanville having a feud. The vindication of us beating them and him getting fired was amazing. I have never been as spent in a game as I was in that game. I was a big part of it to at critical times. I scored the tying touchdown. To make plays in a game like that and win it. Most people point to the Denver game, but we didn't win it. 


What did you like most about playing for the Steelers?

The thing I liked the most was the reputation that had been established there and the respect that you got and had to live up to that had been established by the people that came before you and the standard that they had set. Immediately you had to play at that level and conduct yourself in that fashion. I had never been around anything like that before. It all started with the Rooney family. I remember the end of my rookie year and I was hoping one of the coaches would pull me aside and say, hey great year you'll be back again next year, like they do in college. Chuck Noll walked right by me like I didn't exist. Dick Hoak walked right by me. But I went to get a drink of water and The Chief came around the corner and he said, 'I am going to tell you this. You are a hell of a football player. I love how you play.' That was it for me. I didn't get what I was trying to get, but I got more than I asked for. I never forgot that impact. It was a great reminder of the class that organization stood for. It started there.


Teammates you were closest to during your playing days?

The guys I was closest to and always have been and is like a brother to me is Bubby Brister. Dermontti Dawson, John Jackson and Mike Mularkey were close to me, but Bubby will always be special.

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Do you still keep in touch with former teammates?

My wife was driving to Michigan with friends and runs into John Jackson at a gas station in Bowling Green, Ohio. We ended up talking to each other. I talk to Bubby all the time. I talk to Dermontti.


Who is the one player who you thought was a must for the 75th season team?

If you took the one player that changed the game, and that's rare where they had to make rules because of their ability, Mel Blount did that. If there is one guy who was the poster child for what the Steelers were all about, I would say Jack Lambert.


Do you still follow the Steelers and if so, how closely?

I follow them pretty close. I watch almost every game during the week from Sunday. There are some teams I don't watch because they are not a factor. I would never do that with the Steelers. I know a lot of the organization internally and feel closer to it. But no matter when the Steelers are in the season I am on top of them.

Visit the Steelers Alumni page for more on the team's former players.

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