Hoge became a star running back at Idaho State University and was eventually drafted by his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He told the audience about how Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll scolded him after practice and the lasting impression it made on him.
“He didn’t talk to me about being faster or stronger,” Hoge said. “He said that if we ever wanted to be a champion it had to go beyond our skill set.”
Hoge became a starter for the Steelers during his second year and went on to play in 122-straight games, setting the NFL record at that time upon his retirement in 1993.
Many years later after his playing career ended, Hoge was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was a malignant tumor, ironically the size and shape of a football,” he said.
The one defining moment before his treatment started, Hoge said, is when his daughter crawled into his lap after a long discussion about what might happen and said, “Daddy, find a way.”
Hoge refused to quit his daily routine. He still exercised and played basketball with his friends. He still went to work at ESPN.
He turned a six-month cancer treatment into a five-month treatment. He beat cancer.
“I didn’t lose weight or anything,” he said. “The only difference you would have noticed was my bald head.”
Hoge said his most favorite thing above all else is being a dad, and he uses the “Find a Way” philosophy as a parent.
In closing, Hoge said everyone has the potential to be excellent.
“The mind is the most powerful thing you have, and the spirit is just as strong,” he said. “With those things, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish or overcome.”