Cleat Geeks

Even when Cut, they are Still Strong

Devon Still was cut before the Saturday deadline when all NFL teams had to be down to 53 players.

Still and his daughter Leah captured the hearts of football fans and non-football fans alike as 5-year-old Leah fought a public battle with stage 4 cancer. She was given a 50-50 chance to live at age 4, but after rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell treatments, she’s been in remission since March.

Devon&leahStillBut Bengals Director of Business Development Bob Bedinghaus said that Still’s medical insurance will now “kick in” for the next five years. So Still, and most importantly, Leah, will be covered under the NFL’s health insurance for the next five years, regardless of whether or not Still is picked up as a free agent.

In 2014, Still was cut from the Bengals’ active roster prior to the start of the regular season but was signed to the practice squad. This decision, Still explained, was compassionate on the part of the Bengals: He could visit his daughter, who lives in Delaware and was being treated in Philadelphia, and still receive health insurance plus the security of a steady paycheck. But, only a few weeks later, Still was back on the active roster when an injury occurred. Even when this happened head coach Marvin Lewis granted Still the ability to be with his daughter knowing that she lived in Delaware and was being treated in Philadelphia.

The Bengals’ will not be able to sign Still back to the practice squad this year, his eligibility ran out this season, and he was the only waived player from the Bengals’ rooster who is unable to return on the practice squad.devon&leahStill2

But the decision to cut still wasn’t unjustified. The defensive tackle’s performance in the preseason was nothing exceptional, despite being in what he called “the best shape of my career.” Rookies outshined Still against the Giants and the Bucs. Plus, he’s had multiple elbow and back surgeries, which can be unsettling for coaches and GMs.

Still has a chance to continue his professional career via free agency, which has worked out for players with much skimpier resumes than the second-round draft pick, All-American, and Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Last fall the Bengal’s made a nice gesture by donating proceeds from Still’s No. 75 jersey. They donated that money raised to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the amount of $1.3 million.

Leah and Devon were honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at this summer’s ESPY Awards. Although Leah couldn’t attend the ceremony as she recovered from rigorous stem cell treatment, she concluded her father’s tearful acceptance speech by way of a video message, thanking those who supported her family while she “beat up cancer.”

You can purchase this shirt at the link in this story.

You can purchase this shirt at the link in this story.

Since then, the Stills wrote a children’s book called “I Am Leah Strong” to inspire other kids fighting a life-threatening disease and started the “Still Strong Foundation”  to help meet the needs of families fighting pediatric cancer.

Still’s reaction to the final roster was nothing short of classy — shortly after the announcement on Saturday morning he posted on Instagram “I have nothing but love for the Bengals organization and the city of Cincinnati. Both helped me through one of the darkest times of my life and I am forever grateful. It’s time to move forward and see what’s next.”

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