All the talk of NFL practice squads this week has been about which team would pick up Michael Sam after he was released from the Rams and cleared waivers. The best NFL practice squad story this week, however, is coming out of Cincinnati.
Two years ago, the Bengals drafted Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still in the second round of the 2012 draft. After a successful Penn State career culminating in the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award, Still was expected to be an impact defensive player in the NFL. This offseason, however, Still saw himself fighting for a roster spot following a couple of sub-par seasons.
This was a big offseason for Devon Still’s NFL career, but he had something more important on his mind. This past June, Still’s four-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with stage-four pediatric cancer. Still had to miss a few team activities throughout training camp because of his daughter’s treatments, and it was apparent that his heart and mind just weren’t completely in it during practices and games. As a result, Still admits it came as no surprise that he was cut right before the season.
After being released by the Bengals, Still wasn’t claimed by any other team and was looking for a job. That’s when Cincinnati provided Still with a great gesture. The team offered Still a spot on its practice squad. Being signed to the practice squad, Still would receive a weekly salary of $6,400 along with health insurance to help him pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment. Still will also be able to stay in the NFL during this difficult time without all the strains of traveling with the team. As a result, he can now spend more time with his daughter. Still called this gesture by the Bengals a “blessing in disguise.”
In a league where every dollar and roster spot is precious, stories like this show that teams still have the ability to show tremendous compassion for their players and their families.