Devon Still of the Cincinnati Bengals is a household name in the NFL, but not for his play on the field.
The defensive tackle has been the recipient of an outpouring of support from the league and its fans as he attempts to continue his career while paying for cancer treatments for his four-year-old daughter Leah.
A second-round selection in 2012, Still failed to make the team in August, two months after his daughter was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. But the Bengals offered Still a place on their practice squad to help him pay for his daughter’s expensive treatments.
His stint on the practice squad didn’t last long—Still was activated for the Bengals’ second game on Sept. 14, a 24-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons in which he played 16 snaps and recorded three tackles.
The next day, Still and the Bengals launched a fundraising campaign in which proceeds from the sale of Still’s jersey, valued at $100 each, would go to pediatric cancer research efforts at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. According to ESPN, the sale of 5,000 jerseys so far has raised more than $500,000.
Among those participating was New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who personally bought 100 jerseys.
“It just really caught my attention the way they were handling it,” Payton told Still when the two first met on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” show. “And I think it will give other people strength, obviously in a difficult time. I’m a huge fan from afar, [though] I’ve never met you.”
Still said he was flattered by Payton’s generous donation.
“I just wanted to thank you for really stepping up to help support this cause, Still told Payton, according to ESPN. “I’m pretty sure you know how many families and how many children you’re helping out with this. And it’s just showing the world how it’s not all about how competitive you can be on the field; it’s about what you can do to help out humanity. And I really appreciate you doing what you did.”
The Bengals and Saints play on November 16, which will be more than just a game for both Payton and Still.