As a graduate of Idaho State University with a degree in Education and a minor in Health and Fitness, Merril was a four year football starter, set 44 school and conference records, 22 of them still intact, and still holds two NCAA football records.
Merril was drafted in 1987 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played until 1993 and led the team in rushing and receiving if four of his first five years, setting a record in his third year for receptions by a running back. In 1993, Merril went to the Chicago Bears as a free agent, where he played for one year, until he was forced to retire early due to post-concussion syndrome. At the time of his retirement, Merril had played in 122 consecutive football games, the longest playing streak in the NFL at the time.
In 1995 Merril joined ESPN as a football analyst, where he currently works with Ron Jaworski on the highly acclaimed “State Farm NFL Match Up” show, which is the only show that uses and studies coaches’ tape to provide an inside look at the game. Merril has distinguished himself through his in-depth knowledge of both offense and defense and his strong relationships with the coaches and players in the National Football League. Merril is an analyst for “NFL Tonight” that airs on ESPN television, and host the Fantasy insider that airs on ESPN news, as well as “Prime Time on Monday’s” on ESPN.
Merril has been a sought-after speaker on such subjects as Life in the NFL; Health and Fitness; and Setting and Attaining Your Personal Goals.
Since being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and beating it, there has been a greater demand for Merril to present on such subjects as Dealing With Adversity; Overcoming Obstacles; the Power of the Mind and the Body; How to Use Adversity to Become a Better Person; and Finding Peace In Your Life. Merril helped launch a national cancer awareness and empowerment program for patients with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a program in which he remains very active.
Since his playing days Merril has been on the Board of the Highmark Caring Foundation, and is currently Chairman of the Board.
Merril has built his foundation around his family—wife Toni, daughter Kori, and son Beau. His vision is to help all children know their value and importance, helping them to grow up healthy and whole.