During a timeout in the third quarter of the Bengals' road game against New England, Patriots cheerleaders donned Still's black and orange Bengals jersey as a music video featuring the defensive tackle's 4-year-old daughter, Leah, played on the stadium's video board. Still and his daughter have received national attention since the start of the regular season, after the Bengals kept Still on the team's practice squad in part so he could keep health insurance to pay for his young daughter's cancer treatments.
The official Twitter account of the Patriots' cheerleaders tweeted out a photo of moment.
"It was very emotional," Still said. "Every time I see a video like that and get a reminder of what my daughter is going through and what those other kids are going through, it's definitely hard to fight back the tears."
In addition, Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $25,000 to Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Leah's name.
"I didn't know he gave a donation," Still said. "That's great. It's great how everybody has been stepping up, not just from [Cincinnati], but across the country. It has just been amazing, and it is great for the cancer community."
Leah was diagnosed June 2 with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that left her with a 50 percent chance of survival. She had a successful surgery that completely removed the tumor from her body this past week at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Leah still has cancerous cells in her bone marrow, though, and needs to undergo a round of chemotherapy, radiation and stem-cell treatments to get rid of the disease. As her father cautioned reporters in Cincinnati earlier this week, she still has a long way to go before she can be ruled cancer-free.
In response to Leah's battle, NFL fans, coaches and teams have worked to help the Bengals and Still raise funds and awareness about pediatric cancer. The Bengals' primary fundraising effort revolved around selling Still's jersey and sending all proceeds to the Cincinnati Children's. The Bengals announced this past week that they were covering the $500,000 it took to make the jerseys (Still, a former second-rounder, is a reserve lineman who didn't play much the past season because of injuries), meaning full proceeds from the jersey sales would go to the hospital.
As of Sept. 28, fans from every state, as well as Canada, Finland and Australia, had purchased Still jerseys. Also on Sept. 28, the Bengals announced they had sold 10,000 jerseys and were closing in on $1 million in sales. That was before the Patriots' cheerleaders announced they were buying Still's jersey.
In addition to the gesture from their cheerleaders, the Patriots also played a music video that featured Leah during a timeout. The video featured children with pediatric cancers, and it was set to a mash-up of the songs "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper and "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. The video debuted two weeks ago, on the day Leah had her surgery.
While the video was playing, Still was caught by NBC's cameras watching it and tearing up on the sideline. He wore a black nasal strip with the words "Leah Strong" written on it in white.
"It definitely was touching to see that up on the board, with my daughter and all those other brave kids that are fighting cancer," Still said just after the Bengals' 43-17 loss. "Then seeing cheerleaders take off their jackets and all of them having on the jersey, it just put it over the top. It was amazing."
Still said he knew the video was coming because he had seen "Today Show" host Hoda Kotb tweet earlier Sunday about the Patriots planning to show the video during the game.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has been the most recognized NFL name to participate in the jersey sale. He purchased 100 Still jerseys not long after the fundraising effort was announced. Still is also conducting other fundraising efforts for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.