The Bengals put DT Devon Still, 25, on the practice squad, enabling him to pay for medical care for his daughter, Leah, 4, who has neuroblastoma. On Sunday he had two tackles in a win over the Falcons.
DAN PATRICK:When did you find out you'd be playing on Sunday?
DEVON STILL: Around 10:30 [on Sunday], Coach [Marvin] Lewis came up to me. I tried not to smile in front of him to let him know I was focused on the game. Deep down I was definitely smiling.
DP:That's cutting it close.
DS: You have to get your mind ready pretty fast.
DP:How difficult has it been to concentrate on football?
DS: I'm starting to be able to cope with it more [because of] the amount of support I'm getting from the Bengals, my teammates, the outpouring of support from fans.
DP:How important was it to be on the practice squad to keep your benefits?
DS: When you make an NFL practice squad, the insurance takes care of 100% of your medical bills. The doctors told us our daughter's treatment was going to cost $1 million. They said they've never seen insurance as good as mine. It allowed me to focus on being there for her. A lot of families have to focus on how they're going to pay their medical bills and be there for their child.
DP:How is your daughter doing?
DS: Pretty well. She finished up her fourth round of chemo. On the 25th she goes in for surgery to take the tumor out of her stomach.
DP:What did they tell you were the chances for survival when this started?
DS: A little over 50%.
DP:How do you process that as a parent?
DS: I told the doctor it's not even real that I'm sitting here talking to you about my daughter having cancer. Although 50% is not something a parent wants to hear, it's still more than 10%. We're just going to attack this as hard as we can.
DP:How do you balance your job and your family?
DS: When I'm in the stadium or at practice, I try to give the Bengals everything. When I leave this building, it's all about my daughter. It's not easy being away from my child, but I know I have to make sacrifices.
DP:Did your daughter watch the game?
DS: Yes, she did. She was released from the hospital yesterday after she got to watch herself on NFL Countdown. She was excited seeing herself on TV.
DP:The Bengals are donating proceeds from sales of your jersey to Cincinnati Children's Hospital. What did you make of [Saints coach] Sean Payton buying a hundred of them?
DS: I was appreciative. It just lets you know it's not all about competition. We come together for a greater purpose.
When sophomore Jerry Neuheisel stepped in at quarterback in the first quarter to help UCLA beat Texas 20--17 last Saturday, he was concerned about only one Pac-12 TV analyst—his father, Rick, a former Bruins QB. "I had one throw where I almost threw an interception," Jerry said. "I thought, Oh, my God, I'm going to have to watch this film with my dad later. I'm never going to hear the end of this." ... I asked Saints coach Sean Payton—a replacement quarterback during the 1987 strike—how far he could throw the ball right now. "Sixty yards," Payton said. Then I asked about Drew Brees. After hesitating, Payton said Brees "could throw it 70 yards." ... A's slugger Adam Dunn told me he asks opponents to give him autographed jerseys with funny messages: "Brian McCann signed one, 'To Adam, the best DH in the National League.'"
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
SCOTT BOEHM/AP (STILL)
MARK J. TERRILL/AP (NEUHEISEL)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PAYTON)
BRIAN KERSEY/GETTY IMAGES (DUNN)