It’s surprising what kids will tell you. Sometimes they’re even right! Merril Hoge didn’t know what to say and was unsure what lay ahead after telling his children he had cancer. “Daddy, you’re just gonna have to find a way,” his daughter Kori told him. In a flash, Hoge recalled his own youth and knew she was right (6, Find.)
Read “Find a Way: Three Words that Changed My Life” by Merril Hoge with Brent Cole because:
By age 12, he had heard it all before: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, Merril; a lot of kids have that dream, Merril. But you have to be realistic, too; do you know how hard that is, Merril?” Hoge didn’t have all the answers, but he knew one thing. He would play in the NFL. He tacked that declaration to his dream board to visualize day and night. Above that phrase presided the words “FIND A WAY” (11). Hoge proved doubters wrong again and again, from his difficult upbringing, to an obscure but accomplished college career, to the pros and the broadcast booth. Cancer was another adversary to crush. “Finding a way is about tapping into those core spiritual motives inside of you and taking fierce, resourceful and consistent action until victory is yours,” Hoge writes. (15)
2. Hoge is a prime example of doing what you can and trusting for good results.
Focus on what you want to happen, not what you fear, Hoge writes. “Goals change from pipe dreams to possibilities.” (18) If you take responsibility, you will be surprised to see all the resources you have around you for a given situation. Opportunities in disguise are waiting. For Hoge, working on the farm became a chance to get stronger for football. Schoolwork allowed him to sharpen his football mind. Years later, Hoge recognized his NFL Draft freefall to be a blessing. He slipped to 261st in the 1987 draft but became one of the few players privileged to play for one of the best franchises and coaches.
3. Hoge learned from a legend.
In his rookie training camp, Hoge ran the wrong play. “I thought you said he was smart,” Hoge overheard coach Chuck Noll telling his assistant. How would Hoge take it? Showing up early was Hoge’s calling card. At practice, Noll singled out the rookie on film. The player was sure he was about to be shamed. Instead, Noll asked everyone in the room why teammates would not keep up with Hoge. Noll stressed continually being around the ball on the field, whether or not you had already completed your assignment. That’s how Franco Harris “happened” to haul in the Immaculate Reception.
Ron Jaworski says Hoge has taught him more than scores of great players. “He simply found a way to succeed, to overcome adversity, and to continually improve time and time again (xiii).” No doubt Hoge will have found a way to excel in plenty more situations long after his book’s first printing.
Sam Miller is the founder of Sam’s Dream Blog. A graduate of the University of Illinois, he worked with various teams in sports information and received the Freedom Forum – NCAA Sports Journalism Scholarship for his achievements. At the University of Illinois, Miller regularly wrote feature stories about the football team. He has also served as communications intern for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. Prior to that, he worked as a communications intern for USA Basketball and as an associate reporter for MLB.com.