Devon Still will do everything he can to ruin Sunday afternoon for New Orleans coach Sean Payton, but first the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle wants to look the man in the eye and shake his hand.
Two months ago when the Bengals announced they would be donating the money from sales of Still’s No. 75 jerseys to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in honor of his daughter Leah, who has Stage 4 cancer, Payton not only placed one of the first orders, but one of the biggest when he bought 100 of them.
“He’s basically what got the ball rolling with everything,” Still said. “A lot of the credit goes to him for what he did.”
When news of Payton’s purchase broke, orders started coming in from every state in the country and eventually topped 15,000, resulting in a check worth more than $1.3 million being presented to the hospital last Thursday night during the Bengals’ nationally televised game against the Browns.
“I talked to (Payton) on the phone when I was on Mike and Mike,” Still said, referring to the nationally syndicated radio show. “I had a chance to thank him for purchasing the jerseys. But you really can’t thank somebody the way you want to or are supposed to over the phone. It’s something you have to do face to face, so I’m definitely looking forward to meeting him.”
Asked what he will say to Payton, Still replied, “I don’t know. Whatever comes to my mind, whatever comes from my heart. It’s not something I’m going to practice before I meet him.”
Still spent most of his day Wednesday thinking about Leah, who underwent a round of radiation aimed at eliminating the cancer that remains in her chest and lower extremities.
“Playing football has always been a dream of mine and something I’ve always wanted to do,” Still said Wednesday morning before practice. “But now I need to do it in order to obtain insurance for my daughter. My heart is with my daughter right now. That’s where I want to be at.”
Wednesday’s radiation treatment was the first one Leah underwent.
“Hopefully this is the one and only,” Still said. “It depends on how the test results come back when we get the scan to see if she has to do another one.”
He said it would be four to six weeks before they know.