If you don't know about the story behind the Cincinnati Bengals and Devon Still then prepare for your heart to be warmed.
Still is a defensive tackle that was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Penn State. Still's four-year old daughter Leah was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and has been going through chemotherapy sessions that no child should ever have to be subjected to.
As you can imagine, as a caring father, Still lost his focus on football and after suffering a hamstring strain in the pre-season, he looked destined to be cut by Cincy.
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But the franchise stepped up. They added Still to their practice squad so that the 25-year old could keep his medical plan which paid for his daughter's treatments. Still's story gained national attention, and in a time of Ray Rice and Roger Goodell dominating headlines for the wrong reasons, it was uplifting to have Still's story their.
But it doesn't stop their. Still got an early morning call last week to tell him that he had been taken off the practice squad and added to the Bengals 53-man roster. Head Coach Marvin Lewis spent time with Still on the team's day off Tuesday and made comment about how great a father Still has been and mentioned his commitment to his family and football.
And now, after grabbing national news, the Bengals and Still are going even further. On Monday, Cincinnati decided to start donating all the proceeds from Still's jersey sales to the Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and paediatric cancer care and research in honour of little Leah.
Since then sales of Still's 75 jersey have sky-rocketed, becoming the number one selling Bengals jersey as well as the fasted selling shirt in franchise history. More than 1,000 jerseys — at $100 each — had been ordered in less than 48 hours, with the team also enabling fans to donate directly on the teams website.
Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints head coach, bought 100 of the Still jerseys himself, costing him $10,000 dollars.
"Driving home the other night, I heard the story about Devon Still and what he is going thru with his daughter on the radio," Payton said when asked about the purchase.
"As a parent, myself…I couldn’t help to think about the situation he was in. I thought it was a class move by Mike Brown, Marvin Lewis, and the entire Bengals organization to keep him on their roster and allow him to get the proper benefits so he could give the best care to his child. What I did was just a small token to a very worthwhile cause. I wish them nothing but the best, and am hoping that his daughter will make a full recovery."
It's nice to see such class at a time when the NFL seems in meltdown. To know that football isn't all a business and still has some heart is good to know.
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