Devon Still has been candid about how he was not as focused on football as he should have been last year while watching his daughter, Leah, battle cancer, but he insisted that will not be the case this year.
“I’m ready to go,” Still said. “That’s all I can say is I’m ready to go. I don’t have to worry about my daughter battling cancer right now. I can focus on football. My mind’s focused. Period. Point blank. Period. I’m focused.”
Still talked with reporters for nine minutes on topics ranging from his new physique (he’s down 27 pounds), his speech at the ESPYs and the touching video he posted of he and Leah saying goodbye at the airport yesterday.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation.
You looked like you weren’t nervous at the ESPYS….
Y’all got me ready for that. That’s why I wasn’t nervous, because y’all always have cameras in my face here. Up there wasn’t nothing. but it was special not just because me and my daughter won an award, but it was a big stage to continue to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and that’s what me and my daughter look forward to the most.
What did leah say to you about it?
That I did a good job not crying like a big baby. I’ll take that compliment from her.
Was last night tough to say goodbye?
It was emotional and I didn’t want to show that part because we both make ugly faces when we cry, but it was definitely an emotional part. But she understands what I have to go out here and do, I understand what I have to go out here and do.
She was dancing earlier this week, is her energy back?
She’s almost back to 100 percent. This is the best I’ve seen her in a long time, and I look forward to her finishing up her last round of treatment that she has in the future and just getting back to being a normal kid.
Do you have a clear mind because she’s OK?
I’m ready to go. That’s all I can say is I’m ready to go. I don’t have to worry about my daughter battling cancer right now. I can focus on football.
How much better do you feel?
I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Like I said, I’m inspired. My daughter’s battle with cancer has given me a stronger ‘why’ than I’ve ever had in my life. I’m just looking forward to going out there and showing the coaches what I’m about. I spent last year showing everybody the type of father I was and the type of person I was, and now it’s time to show everybody what type of football player I am.
How’s your back?
I said I’m ready to go.
Was that a factor last year?
It was a big factor. Traveling back and forth on that plane after having back surgery and sleeping cots in the hospital took a toll on me but we are past that right now.
What were Leah’s last words to you?
Go out there and hold it down. Make sure I am not coming out here for no reason. I’m not leaving my daughter’s side to come out here and play around. I am coming out here to earn a spot on this team and that is what I am going to do.
How are her treatments coming?
Just got done with her testing which showed that all the scans came back negative. She’s going to go through here immunotherapy treatment which is just giving her an antibody to boost her immune system back up.
Just a maintenance process?
Yeah, it is. Maintenance.
How long with the maintenance?
We are not sure yet. She is going to go to a couple impatients where she stays in the hospital for about five days. There should be three or four rounds of it.
CH1418, it’s an antibody to help get rid of all the disease in her body and boost her immune system.
This was test that showed free?
Yeah, was CAT scans and MRIs and MIBG scans and stuff like that.
What did you feel the need to mention the Bengals in your ESPY speech?
Because I honestly felt like they set the example. I talk to a lot of parents when I’m at the hospital, and a lot of corporations don’t’ care about what the parents are going through. They don’t care that their kids are going through cancer, and they don’t stick behind them. For a big organization like that who, they don’t need me. There’s plenty of people that want to be in the NFL. For them to stick by my side, that should push other corporations to follow their footsteps.
Did you drop the weight through diet, too, or just working out?
Yeah, it was eating right and lifting right.
Did you daughter stay on your butt?
Yeah. Every time she saw me eat something I wasn’t supposed to, she would tell my trainer. So she definitely helped me out in that process.
What were some of the no-nos she didn’t want you to have?
If I’m not eating chicken, vegetables or fish, then everything was a no-no. That’s all I was able to eat.
She told you that was a no-no?
She heard my trainer tell me that was all I was allowed to eat. If I tried to eat one of her fruit snacks – let alone she didn’t want me to eat it regardless – but she knew it was against my diet so she would make sure I wouldn’t do it.
Any other snacks she likes that you like too?
I think we all like the same thing. Anything sweet. I didn’t get 300 pounds eating healthy foods.
With the progress she’s made, is there any hope she could be here for a day or two at camp?
I don’t know for camp. She still has to protect her immune system right now. She’s had to be on the 90-day (watch), where she has to stay in the house all the time and stay away from people. That’s going to be up in a couple of days, but I don’t want to chance anything with her coming out when. When I make the team and we start playing during the season, she’ll be out here a lot more. I’ll wait for those moments more than training camp.
Will that help your focus more on making the team?
My mind’s focused. Period. Point blank. Period. I’m focused.