When Devon Still put his NFL career on hold in order to be with his 4-year-old daughter, who is being treated for a rare form of cancer, he understood why the Cincinnati Bengals cut him from their roster.
However, he was soon grateful for the move because the Bengals then decided to sign him to their practice squad. That means that his daughter will be covered under the team's health insurance policy in addition to the $6,300 Still will be paid per week for being on the practice squad.
"I wanted to make the roster, but I have a lot of stuff going on right now that I can't give football 100 percent,'' Still told ESPN's SportsCenter. "They could have just washed their hands completely of it.
“Personally I was hoping that I was able to sign back with the Bengals for a lot of reasons. One being that they stuck with me since June 2 when this all came out about my daughter. They’ve been very helpful with just talking to me, just being there for me when I needed somebody to talk to (while) being away from my daughter."
Still, a former All-American defensive tackle at Penn State who was drafted by the Bengals in the second round in 2012, said he was originally going to take the year off from football to be with his daughter, Leah. After speaking with friends and family, he decided to stick with the team because the NFL's health benefits would cover 100 percent of Leah's medical expenses, which he told ESPN are expected to reach $1 million.
"It was very vital to have that for this fight,'' he said about the health benefits.
Still missed many of the team's minicamp practices over the summer to be with his daughter and dealt with injuries in the preseason before ultimately being cut. By NFL rule, every other team in the league had a chance to sign him off waivers in the 24-hour period after he was released, but he was hoping to re-sign with the Bengals and not get picked up by a team farther away from his daughter.
"It was definitely a long 24 hours,'' he told ESPN.
The move to the practice squad means that Still will not be traveling with the Bengals to any away games, so he will have more time to get to Philadelphia to be with Leah, who began another round of chemotherapy on Aug. 29 for neuroblastoma. Doctors gave her a 50-50 chance of survival when she was first diagnosed, Still told ESPN.
"Because they know of my situation, the work environment is easier for me because I'm around players that I know who I care about and who care about me,'' Still told ESPN about the Bengals. "Right now, in the situation I'm in, I need to be in an environment where i know people care about my well-being, care about my family's well-being."
The latest test results following Leah's chemotherapy are expected on Sept. 16, and Still said the next step will be for her to undergo surgery to remove the tumor from her abdomen.