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Steelers Merril Hoge

Steelers History

Former Steelers FB/RB Merril Hoge Believed Pittsburgh Would Never Draft Him In 1987

George Gojkovich / Getty Images

Former Steelers FB/RB Merril Hoge Believed Pittsburgh Would Never Draft Him In 1987

The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known for their ability to draft in all rounds. Let’s wind back the clock to 1987 when the organization selected Merril Hoge in the 10th round out of Idaho State University. The former running back/fullback joined Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger for a second segment that was released on Monday. He went into detail about his specific draft process and was almost 100% sure years ago that Pittsburgh would not be the team to select him in the draft. We now know how wrong he was with this assumption as he played in the Steel City for seven years.

Steelers former fullback, Merril Hoge

Steelers former fullback, Merril Hoge joins the “Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger” podcast for two separate episodes in 2022. | YouTube / Channel Seven

Steelers Legend Merril Hoge Joins Ben Roethlisberger On Podcast and Rips Incompetent Matt Canada 2022 Offense

Many people may not be familiar with how bad of a combine Hoge had back in 1987. He is convinced that it was one of the worst performances of all-time because of his state of health.

“If they were to say who has the worst combine in the history of the combine, I would be in the top 10,” Hoge said. “I get the flu four days before I am supposed to go there. I lose 20 pounds.”

“I almost had 100 receptions in one year during my junior year. I don’t think I caught a ball when I was [at the combine]. I felt so bad. They used to say ‘turn’ and you’d turn to catch it. I turn and [the ball] hits me right in the face and now I have blurred vision. I turn [again] and [the ball] hits me in the face again.”

7 Jan 1990: Fullback Merrill Hoge of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball during a game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. | Credit: Tim de Frisco /Allsport

Hoge went on to talk about his experience with a Steelers scout. There was a pre-draft visit and he went down to the scout as he was watching film and the question that came out of his mouth is still shocking to Hoge to this day.

The scout asked, “Do you play basketball?”

After the individual, whose name was forgotten by Hoge, told him about basketball leagues the players competed in for extra money in the off-season, the scout said he wasn’t interested in watching Hoge doing a football workout.

“Na, I don’t need you to workout. I’ve got everything I need right here. I just wanted to meet you because I like what I see.”

The former Steelers player then left without a belief in his mind that the organization would consider drafting him.

“I’m walking out and I’m like, ‘Okay out of all the teams that have been here, I know the one team that ain’t drafting me, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re more interested in my basketball than they are in my football.'”

Steelers retired Merril Hoge

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Running back Merril Hoge #33 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the football against the Cincinnati Bengals at Three Rivers Stadium on September 19, 1993 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 34-7. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

“Draft day comes and I was supposed to go on the first day. I don’t go on the first day. I don’t go on the second day.”

Hoge vividly remembers praying for some kind of direction to go in life if he wasn’t drafted. On the third day, he landed at peace with the idea of him not playing in the NFL. That’s when the phone rang.

“My dad calls and goes, ‘Someone is on the phone.’ It was the scout who was asking me about basketball. He goes ‘Merril, we’re going to pick you to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. I want you to know something, you’re going to make this football team. We need players like you.’ Then, I became a Pittsburgh Steeler.”


Did you know about Hoge’s crazy combine or his lack of belief that he would be drafted by the Steelers organization? Let us know in the comments below!


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