Bengals selling Devon Still jerseys to raise money for pediatric cancer research
One of the more heartwarming stories to emerge from the NFL as training camp eased into the regular season is how the Cincinnati Bengals waived defensive tackle Devon Still after the defensive tackle failed to crack the 53-man roster.
While 99 out of 100 times when a player is waived it should be considered bad news, the reason why the Bengals let Still go is related to the heartbreaking news the tackle and his family learned in June, when it was discovered that his 4-year-old daughter, Leah, had Stage-4 pediatric cancer and would be undergoing chemotherapy.
Leah’s specific diagnosis was that she had nueroblastoma, and the original prognosis was that she had about a 50 percent chance of survival.
At the time, Still was of course devastated, heartbroken and at a loss about how he could give his all to both his daughter and his career.
“When I found out, I told my family I was done. Done. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my daughter while she’s going through this,” said Still. “She’s fighting for her life. Sports is not more important than me being there while my daughter is fighting for her life.”
Still obviously had his head and heart elsewhere throughout training camp and the team had no choice but to waive him. Still understood why the team had to do so.
“I completely understand where they were coming from,” Still said. “I can’t give football 100 percent right now. In the business aspect they want guys to solely focus on football, which is understandable. We are here to win this city a Super Bowl and right now I am not in a position where I can give football 100 percent of everything I have.”
But that’s where Still’s story turns for the better, or at least as good as it possibly can be in light of Leah’s condition: The Bengals signed Stills to the team’s practice squad so he could maintain his salary and health insurance benefits while his daughter undergoes treatment.
Still, a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, will receive $6,300 per week and Leah will be provided with health coverage in light of his placement on the practice squad.
“They could have just washed their hands completely of it,” Still told Cincinnati.com. “Say we don’t care what’s going on in his personal life, we just want people who can care 100 percent on football, that’s what they pay us to do. But they thought about my personal issues and allowed me to come back on the practice squad so I still have insurance.”
The Bengals have stepped up even further, as the team currently is selling Still’s jersey on the team’s store website to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. The jersey sells for $100 with all proceeds going to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to assist with pediatric cancer care and research.
Help sack cancer with a @Dev_Still71 jersey. Proceeds go to benefit @CincyChildrens. More: http://t.co/kOuwYDKmCN pic.twitter.com/PmhP5F5o7g
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) September 9, 2014
A noble, classy and thoughtful gesture from the Bengals, to be sure. Still posted an expression of gratitude to the Bengals organization via his Twitter account Tuesday.
Big thanks to the Bengals for helping me bring awareness to pediatric cancer and helping raise money… http://t.co/7IoNR8nwPX
— Devon Still (@Dev_Still71) September 9, 2014
Thoughts go out to Still, his daughter and their family and loved ones.