The month of September has probably been the most tumultuous month I can ever remember as a fan of the NFL. It started with the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal and the video that surfaced of him knocking his fiancée out in an Atlantic City elevator. It cast a black eye on America’s favorite sport and threatened Roger Goodell’s job as commissioner due to the impending cover-up that the league may or may not have perpetuated. The saga is far from over. Regardless, the light two-game suspension Rice initially received before being released by the Baltimore Ravens drew immediate criticism and caused everyone to question the integrity of the league. Anybody who thought things couldn’t get any worse were mistaken as shortly after one of the league’s biggest stars, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted on child abuse charges for beating his 4-year old son. The Vikings were on the verge of allowing AP to play before ultimately deciding against it because they wanted to “get it right.” I’m sure the decision had nothing to do with the sponsors that were backing out. Other lesser known players made headlines as well for domestic abuse in September which extended the shadow cast on the NFL as a league full of individuals that lack values and integrity.
This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals and Devon Still . I would consider this story to be widely reported, but it has no doubt taken a backseat to the scandals involving NFL stars and may not have caught the eye of the casual observer. It was only a few years ago that the Cincinnati Bengals were considered the most troubled franchise in all of professional sports due to an astonishing amount of Bengals’ players being arrested. However, the Bengals have managed to completely overhaul their delinquent ways and have managed to provide one of the more inspiring stories of 2014.
Devon Still is a defensive lineman who was originally cut from the Bengals’ 53-man roster in August after admitting “he couldn’t give football 100 percent.” The reason why was because his 4-year old daughter was in the fight of her life battling stage 4 neuroblastoma. After learning of his situation, the Bengals added him to their practice squad so he could keep his insurance and pay for his daughter’s treatments. The Bengals then announced that all proceeds from Devin Stills’ jersey sales will be donated to the to support pediatric cancer. As of Sep. 28, jersey sales are approaching 10,000 and the Bengals are preparing to present a $1M check to the medical center. It shows how one organization’s support for a father and his little girl stricken with cancer can evolve into something much greater and highlights the importance of organizations such as Imerman Angels who make it a mission to provide cancer support for any individual in need. A decade from now, the scandals that maligned the NFL this September will largely be forgotten. However, the thousands of Devon Still jerseys in circulation will always serve as a reminder of the profound impact that can be had by supporting just one little girl’s battle against cancer.
Watch Devon Still give a pre-surgery pep talk to his daughter!
Joey Korman is a volunteer blogger for Imerman Angels and an avid sports fan. He has experience with social media through his own blog and has written for other sports-related blogs. He is also currently pursuing a position with the Chicago White Sox and envisions a future career in the sports field.