The Cincinnati Bengals are lending a big helping hand to NFL defensive tackle Devon Still, as his daughter fights for her life in Philadelphia.
Still's 4-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with cancer and has been getting chemotherapy treatments at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia since June. He had trouble focusing on football during training camp because he was so concerned about his daughter.
After four months of recovering from injury and anguishing over his daughter, Still was all the way back on Wednesday. The Bengals promoted him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, convinced that he's ready to resume his role as part of their defensive line rotation.
The Delaware native and former Penn State Nittany Lion received the early morning call from an assistant coach, asking if he could come to Paul Brown Stadium where they would discuss adding him back to the roster.
"They told me when I get a chance to make it over to the stadium," Still said. "I rolled right out of bed and made it over about 5 minutes later before they changed their minds."
After he pulled a hamstring in the second preseason game, the Bengals put the second-round pick from 2012 on the practice squad to open the season, allowing him to keep his medical coverage.
Still's story got national attention. When the Bengals decided on Monday to donate proceeds from his jersey sales to Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and pediatric cancer care and research, the No. 75 jersey quickly became the team's top seller.
Team spokesman Jeff Berding said more than 1,000 jerseys — at $100 apiece — had been ordered in less than 48 hours. The team also posted a link on its website for those who want to donate to the cause without buying a jersey.
"I was amazed," Still said on Wednesday. "I was shocked. Just the fact that it sold more in 24 hours than any Bengals jersey, it shows how much the world of sports has an impact on what's going on in this world."
Still's hamstring has healed. It's unclear whether he'll be active on Sunday when the Bengals (1-0) have their home opener against Atlanta (1-0).
Coach Marvin Lewis spent time with Still on the team's day off Tuesday trying to gauge whether he was ready mentally to resume his role.
"He's been a great father," Lewis said. "He's done everything he can to be a part of the football team. He's got himself back again healthy. Last week was a good week for him just to clear his mind and have an opportunity to spend time. We'll continue to allow him to do what he needs to do as far as attending to her care because it's important.
"I said 'Where are you? Are you ready to do this again?' And he was, so that's good."
Still is grateful that the Bengals have supported him while he struggled rather than releasing him.
"I'm not going to lie, I thought just like everybody else: This is a business," Still said. "For them to be behind me this much is amazing to me and it's definitely changed my perspective on the world of sports."
The national support has been gratifying as well.
"One of the main things I wanted to do was raise awareness for pediatric cancer," Still said. "I didn't want her fight to be for no reason. I wanted to bring light upon every family and every child who's going through this same battle so that they can receive help from outside people."
Even though it's unclear when he'll get to play, Still has decided on a celebration should he get a sack — a wiggle move that makes his daughter laugh.
"I'm definitely going to do that if I get a sack," he said.