On the surface, the Bengals cutting defensive tackle Devon Still and putting him on the practice squad might appear to be a case of a team trying to salvage an underperforming draft pick.
But there’s far more to Still’s story, and the Bengals’ willingness to stand by him.
According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Still’s 4-year-old daughter Leah is battling cancer, and Still admitted he can’t give a game his undivided attention.
“I completely understand where they were coming from,” Still said. “I can’t give football 100 percent right now. In the business aspect they want guys to solely focus on football, which is understandable. We are here to win this city a Super Bowl and right now I am not in a position where I can give football 100 percent of everything I have.”
In a sense, the practice squad is the perfect opportunity for the team to help Still, since he’ll continue to make more than $100,000 if he stays there all year, and he’ll maintain his health insurance at a critical time. But he won’t travel on road trips, so he’ll have the opportunity to spend more time in Philadelphia with his daughter as she begins a fourth round of chemotherapy.
Their loyalty in a profession not known for it is not lost on Still.
“They could have just washed their hands completely of it,” he said. “Say we don’t care what’s going on in his personal life, we just want people who can care 100 percent on football, that’s what they pay us to do. But they thought about my personal issues and allowed me to come back on the practice squad so I still have insurance. They said if I keep working on my physical with my injury and mentally prepared myself to focus on football, then they can move me back up to the roster, so I am not all the way out of the loop. . . .
“The Bengals were loyal to me. I’m not about to up and leave them. Loyalty is something I really need right now because I never know what direction this is going to go with my daughter.”
The Bengals deserve credit for allowing Still the opportunity to deal with a personal crisis, and he hopes to repay them down the line, by playing the kind of football they imagined when they chose him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.