Between the Ray Rice debacle, Aaron Hernandez’s murder charges, numerous drug-related arrests, and ongoing tension over the use of the Washington team’s nickname, it’s been a rather tumultuous year for the National Football League. Which is maybe part of why Devon Still’s story is, by contrast, so wonderful.
Still is a defensive lineman with the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s played for the team for two years and been a starter for most of that time. This preseason, though, his coaches knew–and Still himself admitted–that he was going to have a difficult time staying focused.
Why? Because Still’s four-year-old daughter, Leah, has been diagnosed with Stage Four pediatric cancer. Doctors have given her a 50-50 chance of survival.
Still was up-front about his mind being elsewhere, and said he would accept the consequences of his inability to play as well as he had.
Unfortunately, that inability did lead to his getting cut from the team. One day later, though, after he cleared waivers, the Bengals signed Still to their practice squad. What that means, practically speaking, is that in addition to drawing a paycheck (the salary for practice squad players is $6,300 per week), Still, and his family, remain eligible for the NFL’s health insurance.
That insurance will cover the cost of his daughter’s treatment, estimated to top off at around $1 million.
But the story doesn’t end there. Shortly after announcing that they’d re-signed Still, the Bengals further announced that they would donate 100% of every Devon Still jersey sale to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, one of the top pediatric cancer treatment facilities in the country.
Over the next 24 hours, Still’s jersey sold more than any other Bengals player in any one-day period, ever.
And sales are still going strong. After moving over 1,000 of the jerseys from Tuesday to Wednesday, the team said that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton had purchased 100 of them–for $10,000–in order to help.
According to the Bengals, many of the orders they’re receiving are from out of state, or are from people who don’t even ask for the jersey, but who simply want to donate.
If you’d like to purchase a Devon Still jersey, you can do so through the Cincinnati Bengals’ team store.