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April 5, 2024 13 mins

In this episode of Conversations with a Legend, LaVar Arrington sits down with Merril Hoge, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player. Hoge flips the discussion to LaVar and his decision to switch from running back to linebacker, plus LaVar brings up Hoge wearing a leopard speedo in Barcelona, Spain. The guys discuss the current state of the Steelers. Hoge also talks about the importance of coaching and the impact of good coaching on a team's success. The conversation concludes with Hoge discussing his passion for fitness and his endorsement of the Breathe or Fit product.

•Why did LaVar switch from running back to linebacker because he felt he would be better suited for the linebacker position.

•Hoge recalls playing in Barcelona, Spain, and blending in with the locals on the beach with a leopard speedo

•He discusses the importance of coaching and the impact it has on a team's success.

•Hoge endorses the Breathe or Fit product for improving respiratory health and overall fitness.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
This is up on Game presents Conversations with a Legend
with LeVar Errington, and LeVar is sitting down with some
of the legends you have watched on and off the field.
This is up on Game Presents Conversations with a Legend.

(00:24):
And now here's LeVar Errington.

Speaker 2 (00:28):
Hello everybody, Yes, it is me your boy, LeVar Arrington,
and it is another exciting edition of Conversations with a
Legend is up on Game as Fox Sports Radio listen.
I've talked to a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers and they've
all been on the defensive side of the ball. I
hit Captain Kirk, talk to g Lloyd, talk to Chad Brown. Well,

(00:52):
now we're gonna go on the offensive side. And this guy,
this next guy.

Speaker 3 (00:58):
Was a thumper.

Speaker 2 (01:00):
So even though he was on the offense, he played
like he was on the defense. Happy, excited, a great man.
Somebody I think so highly of Merrill Hodge. Man, it's
great to have you on the show.

Speaker 4 (01:15):
Well, I'm gonna stop you right there because I can't
be more proud of you, brother. But then when you're
doing that rendition there, I'm like, wait a minute, I've
been covering you since high school. Yeah, and you played
running back and linebacker, So why would you go to linebacker.

Speaker 2 (01:32):
When I would watching guys like you playing tail playing
full back, tailbackery you know why I went Yeah, tell
me why I went for linebacker because I really did
not know if I would be good enough playing running
back at.

Speaker 3 (01:46):
The next line.

Speaker 2 (01:47):
That's I felt like, for my skill set, I would
probably be best suited to be a linebacker. And they
tried to force me to play running back or safety,
so they didn't even.

Speaker 3 (01:58):
Bring me in and and had me.

Speaker 2 (02:01):
Say I started off at safety and and and so
I was like, I'm not a safety. You know, I'm
from Pittsburgh. Y'all recruited me as a linebacker. I know
y'all see me play running back. You tried, Joe tried
to get me to play running back. I didn't want
to be running back. And and then they put me
at safety. I didn't want to be a safety, so
they ended up putting me at at linebacker. It worked out,

(02:22):
But I mean, I love playing tailback, but I really
played the position because we needed a tailback.

Speaker 3 (02:29):
That could listen cover.

Speaker 4 (02:30):
Had you heard about you and so, you know the
your reputation preceded yourself I'm going to tell you about
because listen, there's a lot of guys would leave Friday's
practice and go and go watch the game. Yeah yeah,
Neil o'donald Neil don was always at the game. He
was and he was telling me about about you. So
that's pretty cool. When I was working for the ABC
affiliate in Pittsburgh, I got it. My first game was

(02:51):
one of your games. I couldn't tell if you were which, yeah,
you were awesome oft both. That's why that's why I
never sat like, why did you not stage?

Speaker 2 (03:01):
I just want I just wanted to be a linebacker.
That was just in my head. I just want That's
what I wanted to be.

Speaker 4 (03:06):
From a coaching perspective, I gotta let the guy do
what he's most passionate about.

Speaker 3 (03:10):
That they get the most out of him that way.

Speaker 2 (03:13):
So I got a funny story for you before we
go into like talking about you know, what you're promoting
and what you got going on. Talk a little bit,
talk a little football. But Barcelona Spain, I'll never forget.
I'll never forget. I was in the eighth grade and
that was before my freshman year.

Speaker 3 (03:33):
Barcelona, Spain.

Speaker 2 (03:35):
You guys are playing ironically or coincidentally, the San Francisco
forty nine ers.

Speaker 3 (03:41):
We go to a beach.

Speaker 2 (03:44):
We were kids that were sponsored by Baldy Reagan, so
we're there with you guys. We had great access because
of Baldy's relationship with the Rooney family. And I thought
the funniest but the coolest thing all at the same
time was you were on the beach with a Leopard's
speedo on.

Speaker 3 (04:04):
Is one of the.

Speaker 2 (04:04):
Things that kind of stood out to me that through
the years that I remember, and I was like, this
has gotta be the most ogous double ow seven move
that anybody could ever pull in life. What what went behind?
Do you remember? First of all, do you remember doing that?

Speaker 4 (04:21):
Okay, so you know what when you're saying there like,
I don't remember you being there, And then when.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
I remember, I was, yeah, you know, you wouldn't have
known me, but the cool thing you covered me. But
I knew y'all before you knew me. So Tim Worley,
I had. I had the biggest thing for you and
Tim Worley. And then Andre Haystings was really kind to me,
Like when so he came up to me and spent
some time with me, But Tim Worley and you and

(04:47):
and uh what Warren Williams like, Man, I was just
I was. I was totally into to y'all. So so
that's I knew y'all who ye before you knew who
I was covering, covering me.

Speaker 4 (04:58):
But you know the you know the same way it
went in Rome, right, Okay, when you know when we
got to Spain, we'd heard about the beaches and like
it lived up to it, and we're like, you know what, listen,
let's fit in.

Speaker 3 (05:08):
Yep, that was the goal to fit in. Okay, you
fit in, You fit in. I think, thank goodness, there's
not there wasn't.

Speaker 4 (05:17):
I g and these phones, cell phones and stuff like
that that would have lived forever.

Speaker 2 (05:21):
That was I was like, oh yeah, merroor Hodge, you know.

Speaker 3 (05:28):
And then it became like you'll never do it. I said,
I'll do it. I'm going there and I'm gonna blend
right in. You did it, You did it, listen. I
had more on the most. Yes you did, Yes you did.
There was a lot going on.

Speaker 2 (05:44):
What was that the Baltic Ocean we were in that
it was it was a lot going on there. I'll
tell you that I got confused and distracted more times
than I could shake a stick at. On that trip,
I saw a lot of things in person that just
me too.

Speaker 3 (05:58):
Okay, okay, we'll leave it at like you said, whenever
we are, let's let's if you are shot at fourteen.

Speaker 4 (06:03):
I think I was probably about twenty four, and I
was like, oh gosh, you never seen this.

Speaker 3 (06:07):
Before, never seen this before. Very very nice, very interesting.

Speaker 2 (06:13):
Okay, right, let's go football. Let's start with Pittsburgh since
we're both you know, our background connection is is Pittsburgh.
Troy Polamalu jumped in and said, hello to us.

Speaker 3 (06:25):
What was your what's your take on the latest state
of the team?

Speaker 2 (06:29):
I know Roethlisberger came out not too long ago and said,
it's the culture isn't the same anymore. It doesn't seem
the same in the locker room, doesn't seem the same,
and maybe that could be the reason why the team
is kind of where they're at right now. You are
a part of that that Steeler culture and creating and

(06:49):
continuing to push and build that Steeler culture. What's your
what's your take on the current state of the Steelers.

Speaker 4 (06:55):
Well, it actually reminds me of one of my rookie
year was eighty seven. It was the same transition. You know,
remember that. I don't know if you at that age,
if you would remember that. You know that Chuck noll
out shut out the game. Game had passed him by,
you know, and we had, you know, all the old
guy at all the seventies majority were gone. Only Webster,

(07:19):
Stalwarth and Donnichelle. We're stitill on the team. And I
do remember that. So there's that. That was that, and
we were we were not very good. And when the
transition was started there and that kind of similar thing
was talked about and discussed and and sometimes you know,
it takes a while to get that reacclimated when you're

(07:39):
making that that transition. And I think that is you know,
look at some of the players that have left veteran
and one of them Troy Paul molloy. Mean, you know,
even like listen, Ben Roethlisberger was probably the epitome of
like a Steeler and holding people account count a Steeler.

Speaker 3 (07:59):
And I didn't know that's that's the first one to
hear that, you know.

Speaker 4 (08:02):
I mean, I don't know if you remember the footage
where Antonio Brown was doing the locker room thing, and
there was somebody in the background going to get off
the phone.

Speaker 3 (08:11):
That was Ben.

Speaker 4 (08:12):
That was Ben, you know, like he was trying. He
tried to run the locker room, like you know, like
pro she should run.

Speaker 2 (08:18):
And I turned into that that's an interesting perspective because
it was almost like who's right and who's wrong with
the a B. And Roethlisberger did like, is it is
it been not being a good teammate? Is it is
it AB not being a good teammate? And that became
like kind of a conversation.

Speaker 4 (08:37):
Yeah, well I could tell you this because I know both.
I know the scenario intimately that and you know this
is true in any in any true environment, but especially
professional environments. When you are trying, when you're a leader
and you're demanding structure and you're demanding ownership and accountability,
and that is being fought back on, You're always going

(09:00):
to be looked at as you always be looked at
as bad when somebody's trying to make you accountable and
fall in with the team. And this is this is
what everybody's doing. Okay, this is not time to sit
there in video yourself and introduce whatever we just did,
the world time coaches just called us up here, let's go.

Speaker 3 (09:19):
Let's so.

Speaker 4 (09:21):
But because up to that point, you know, they had
a really good relationship, you know, but what was eroding
is that there is a structure for the team and
then ab and that was just wearing that started wearing
on the team started pulling it apart, and it got
worse and worse and worse. So I think when I
think Tony Brown just mentioned, you know, like you know

(09:43):
what he thinks of Ben as a quarterback, because yeah,
you got to experience some.

Speaker 3 (09:47):
Other people exactly. So I I just listen so to
where they are now.

Speaker 4 (09:54):
Though I think there's some truth to that, and I've
been a part of the scouting if I had to
withdraw from it, but you know, they're intimately and committing
to finding Steeler players, okay, and I haven't known that,
and that is that. But I also believe that you
have to get Steeler coaches to Coaching is so important.

(10:17):
That's the thing too, you know as well, people who
have played the game and no sports, I mean, coaching
does matter. And when you have a combination of good
coaching and good players, good things can happen, and magical
things can happen. You just can't have one or the other.
The Bill Belichick you know Tom Brady discussion, Okay, let
me they were nothing eroded in my eyes with Bill Belichick,

(10:38):
and nothing elevated for Tom Brady when they left that
magic together.

Speaker 3 (10:44):
Well that's what it was. Was extraordinary.

Speaker 4 (10:48):
And the only thing that we now somewhat close is
Andy and Patrick Mahomes. I mean that those that doesn't
happen all the time, but that you do need both.
You can't have bad coaching because they never get the
most out of their players and they never developed players.

Speaker 3 (11:05):
Right.

Speaker 4 (11:05):
Yes, why you do need good coaching, and you need
guys that can develop and understand this league and how
to play in this league.

Speaker 2 (11:10):
Before I let you go, unleash your athletic potential without drugs.
Breathere fit, it's the ultimate gym for your lungs. Tell
me about it. Before I let you, I really could breathe.

Speaker 4 (11:20):
Fi Now, I had open our surgery, and in order
to leave there, I had to get my respiratory system back,
my lungs. You had to breathe and blow into the steal.
So this comes across my plate. I'm all, I'm I'm passionate.
About fitness and how can you evolve your fitness make
your fitness better. So the first thing I got my
attension guy said, well, at thirty years of age, once
you get to thirty, you start to erode cardiovascularly from

(11:42):
a restiratory aspect.

Speaker 3 (11:43):
If you're not doing anything cardiovascular wise. Huh.

Speaker 4 (11:46):
And he's like, one of the West ways to restore
that is to train your respiratory system, which is your lungs.
Since the system, and I was thinking, oh, that made
sense based on how I had to get out of
the hospital for it. But I always thought cardiovasculator was
about heart. The respiratory system, I'd shoot. Of course it
has something to do with it. So anyway, I said, listen,

(12:06):
I can you can tell me that I'd rather try it.
So I started working with it, and here's what I did.
I actually on accident, left had to go on a trip.
I was gone for about ten days. I trained, but
I didn't do any cardio. I did the breather fit.
I brought this with me. You can do it anywhere.
It takes five minutes. I'll do it twice a day
for six days a week. Take it off. I come

(12:26):
home and now I implement my cardio and I'm like,
my breathing system, my respiratray system was like I had
been training, but I could tell my heart rate was
a little off because I hadn't been training for two weeks.
And I'm like, oh my gosh. And so let's say
you're not doing any cardio. This should be a great
way to kick start your health because oxygen's vital for

(12:47):
your entire body, or really for brain health and brain functions.
So the more oxygen you could be, the easier you breathe.

Speaker 3 (12:53):
Here's the results. You'll be happier, you'll be smarter, you'll
be healthier. And that's the worst thing that could come.

Speaker 4 (12:58):
From it, right, could spark you into investing more into
your health.

Speaker 2 (13:02):
Make sure you visit breatherfit dot com to be able
to get the product, and make sure you tell them
that the goat Meryll Hodge sent you to go get
that all right.

Speaker 3 (13:14):
Merril Hodge, it's been a pleasure, bro. One of my
heroes growing up.

Speaker 2 (13:19):
Man hard knows football was a part of my culture
and growing up, and you were a part of that.
Pittsburgh Steeler Great Meryll Hodge, This is up on game.
This is conversations with a legend Fox Sports Radio.

Speaker 3 (13:32):
iHeartMedia. We'll be right back
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