Merril Hoge, the former ESPN analyst and NFL running back, can describe vividly how chemotherapy can "literally scream through your veins . . . the burns, the hair loss, the fatigue of it all."
He learned this firsthand while having treatment in 2003 for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a disease he believes is linked to his exposure to the herbicide Roundup when he was a boy doing farmwork.
Recently Hoge, as tens of thousands of people have done, filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, the company that makes Roundup.
Hoge, a 54-year-old native of Pocatello, Idaho, said he began using the product as an adolescent working at Shiozawa Farms in Idaho in 1977. Like more than 18,000 other plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits, he claims in his complaint, first filed in U.S. District Court in Idaho, that he has "incurred significant economic and noneconomic damages."
Hoge lives in Kentucky; his filing was sent to multidistrict litigation in northern California. Bayer AG, the parent company of Monsanto, has lost three Roundup-related cases since last summer.
"We believe the dangerous product, Roundup, caused Mr. Hoge's cancer," his attorney, Joseph Osborne, told the Idaho State Journal. "So we filed a lawsuit seeking coverage for pain and suffering for him both emotionally and physically, both in the past and future as well as any relevant economic damages we can claim."
While Hoge was doing farmwork, the lawsuit states, he "mixed and sprayed Roundup on crops and other plants as part of his job duties," following all safety warnings.
"Listen, I've been using Roundup forever," Hoge told CBS News. "I didn't wear gloves. We weren't told to wear gloves or a mask."
The lawsuit does not specify monetary damages and Osborne said Hoge hopes "to bring additional notice and attention to the fact that Roundup is still on the market, still being sold."
Hoge told CBS that when he sees it on store shelves, he wonders, "How can it be there and still exposed to people without them knowing it?"
Hoge was a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers for seven seasons, his career cut short by concussions during his single season with the Chicago Bears in 1994. He worked for ESPN for over 20 years, until being laid off in 2017.