Life, in the world of football, is tough.
It is an unforgiving existence filled with uncertainty, few second chances, and unfulfilled potential. The very fabric of the sport is one made of alabaster dreams and sleepless nights. To be a cog, in the mighty machinery of the NFL, is to be one of a kind. It is the realization of hard work and constant improvement. Yet it can also be the giver of life. The ability to change destiny is found beneath the glamour and glitz of the bright lights.
Devon Still realized this, whether he wanted to or not. The Cincinnati Bengals released Devon after making the necessary roster cuts. This means that Still is able to sign with any of the other 31 teams in the league. After blessing America’s Pastime and being the feel-good story the NFL needed, Devon’s stint with the Bengals has come to an end.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a conference call, covered by ESPN, that the decision was purely business related.
“He really did a good job this preseason and it’s an unfortunate part of professional sports that not everyone can stay there and be there in the end. For both Devon and the Bengals, we want to this year just focus on football and make sure everything was right for our football team.”
Still is not angry. He is not bitter. He understands that there’s more for him ahead. This is the nature of the beast that is professional football. It is a giddy high that can be balanced, unfairly, with heart wrenching lows. Yet it is a game that wraps itself around emotions and refuses to let go. There is a bond created between football, its players, and fans. The love-hate relationship is a whirlwind of anticipation and disappointment. Devon Still didn’t show up on the field much. But his heart and soul was always there for the fans to see.
The mental strain of dealing with a daughter diagnosed with cancer is devastating. Dealing with that same scenario and being cut from a team is a spirit-crushing reality. How would he do it? How could Devon and his family deal with the medical expenses and care that his daughter Leah needed? Enter the Cincinnati Bengals. By keeping Still around, he was assured of medical insurance and the stability needed to help his little angel regain her strength. Some would say destiny. Some would say divine intervention. Devon undoubtedly said thank you.
Not only the nation, the world was treated to the captivating smile of a little girl and the tears of a burly defensive end. As she became stronger, Devon’s daughter began to understand that millions of people wanted her to get well. The cheers weren’t to scare her. They were to encourage her to live.
Devon Still is moving on from the Men in Stripes. Wherever fate takes him and the little darling we’ve come to adore, their courage and determination will be forever emblazoned in our hearts.
[Photo by Jared Wickerham / Getty Images]