Bengals sell nearly 15,000 Devon Still jerseys

CINCINNATI -- A little more than a month after deciding to sell Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still's jersey for charity, the Bengals have sold nearly 15,000 of them.

The team's director of sales and public affairs, Jeff Berding, told Cincinnati television station WLWT earlier this week that they had exactly 14,945 sales of the jersey before ending the donation drive Monday -- raising more than $1.25 million. The proceeds will go to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, in hopes of helping fund research in pediatric cancers, and to help families who have children living with them.

The money will be presented to representatives from the hospital during a presentation at the end of the first quarter of the Bengals' Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 6.

The Bengals got involved with the fundraiser after Still, their former second-round pick, began dealing with his own daughter's plight with a potentially deadly disease. On June 2, 4-year-old Leah was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. She has since undergone successful surgery to remove the cancerous tumor from her abdomen.

Almost a month removed from that surgery, she now is facing several weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments as doctors try to remove the remaining cancerous cells from her bone marrow. When they gave Still and his family their initial diagnosis on Leah, doctors gave her a 50-50 chance to live.

"We applaud Devon for his openness in sharing his daughter's challenging story nationwide through media and social media," Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a news release last month. "We also applaud the response of our fans and many others to the jersey sales. The welfare of Devon and Leah are foremost in our minds, but we are proud and excited to be able to be a part of something that can help advance the cause of fighting childhood cancer."

Still's story became a national headline at the beginning of September when he was added to the practice squad after failing to make the 53-man roster. He wasn't a bad player, but in the preseason he was dealing with injuries on top of his daughter's medical situation. The concerns about his daughter alone had his mind drifting from football, and he admitted that he wasn't 100 percent invested in the sport because he was thinking about her future.

Two weeks into the regular season, with Still physically healthy enough to play, the Bengals checked in on his mental health. He told head coach Marvin Lewis he was ready to play football again.

He has appeared in every game since, although his playing time may soon diminish with Brandon Thompson close to rejoining the team. Like Still, Thompson began the year as a reserve interior lineman, but he was more of a consistent contributor, called upon regularly in run-stopping situations. Thompson has been out since Week 2 with a knee injury, but he practiced Wednesday for the first time, giving a sign that he might be ready to relieve Still again soon.

Countless entertainers and athletes have purchased Still's jerseys. ESPN's Scott Van Pelt purchased 50 to donate to children in Cincinnati, and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton bought 100 to do the same.

Since Still's story first started spreading, he has been interviewed on various ESPN platforms, including being part of a segment on "NFL Countdown." He also has appeared on "Good Morning America," the "Today Show" and "The Ellen Degeneres Show," among others. Leah has since been part of a music video featuring children with pediatric cancers called "Truly Brave."