Merril was eight years old when he first discovered football on television. The second Merril laid eyes on that TV he knew what he wanted, and that was to play in the NFL! Growing up in a small town in Idaho the goal seemed unrealistic, but Merril didn’t just dream it, he found a way to live it! From that young age he used the words Find A Way to take action, overcome any obstacle, and attain any goal in life. To this day, those same three words Find A Way have developed into a business, coaching, and a parenting tool. Those words guided Merril how to help others Find A Way to take ownership of their life.
As a graduate of Idaho State University with a degree in education and a minor in health and fitness, Merril was a four year starter who set 44 school and conference records and two NCAA football records, one for most receptions by a running back in a season and the other for most receptions by a back for a career once he left for the NFL.
In 1987 Merril made his childhood dream a reality when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played until 1993 and led the team in rushing and receiving in four of his first five years, setting a record in his third year for receptions by a running back. Along with Franco Harris, he is one of only two Steelers players to rush for 100 yards or more in back-to-back playoff games. He was the Steelers Iron man of the year two years in a row (1989 and 1990) and was named to the All-Madden team in 1989. In 1994, Merril went to the Chicago Bears as a free agent, where he played for one year until he was forced to retire after improper care of head trauma he sustained on a Monday night game in Kansas City.
At the time of his retirement, Merril had the longest consecutive playing streak in the NFL at 122 games.
In 2022 Merril retuned to the Steelers and was able to continue doing what he loves most, studying coaching tape and making evaluations of players transitioning to the NFL for the Steeler’s Scouting department and pro evaluation department.
Scouting was a great transition from the Your Call Football league he helped build as a Head Coach and director of the league.
In 2003 the habits and mindset that Merril Formulated throughout his childhood and carried into adulthood, helped him Find A Way to over come the ultimate challenge-cancer. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma on Valentines Day February 14th, Merril took on chemotherapy with the same tenacity that got him to the NFL and beat it. Through the difficult moments, Merril found inspiration through his daughter Kori, then nine, who upon hearing the news, whispered, “Dad, find a way.” On July 2 2003, Merril got the call he was cancer free, however there was a but after that, Merril would be told he need open heart surgery, which he would have October 5th 2015.
Merril took his same Find A Way mind set and would recover from open heart surgery and be back to work in 2 weeks. Merril’s biggest impact can be felt within his family and community. Merril was Chairman of the board of The Highmark Caring place, which is a grieve center for children and their families for nearly 30 years. He also ran a golf outing for over 25 years to raise funds for The Caring place with former Steelers, Hines Ward, Mark Bruener and Max Starks.
In 2018, with the national discussion on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) at its peak, Merril released Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football. He collaborated on the project with board-certified forensic neuropathologist, Dr. Peter Cummings, to take an unbiased look at the facts surrounding this misunderstood pattern. Together, they conducted a provocative examination of the science, as well as the hysteria around CTE and how it is being manipulated to serve an agenda.
Merril’s first book, Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life, was released in 2010. It is a moving memoir in which he shares the simple philosophy that guides him to this day and has enabled him to overcome obstacles throughout his life.
There is one thing Merril loves more than when he played in the NFL, worked at Espn, he loves being a Dad and loves his family without end. Find A Way has become a parenting tool that he uses to help guide and teach is kids and grand kids to take ownership of their lifes direction.