Football, Giving back, Heroes, NFL, Sports

The father-daughter story that is inspiring millions…

{Source: Devon Still's IG}
{Source: Devon Still’s IG}

 

Sports have divided us for years. The dynasties vs. the non dynasties. The haves vs. the have nots. The winners vs. the losers. Every once in a while, the tide shifts and rivalries are set aside as fans unite to lend support, encouragement and prayers to those who give so much to the game. There was the late Lou Gehrig, the late Jim Valvano, the late Kay Yow and the late Tony Gwynn. Recently, there has been Chuck Pagano, Pat Summitt, Stuart Scott, Jim Kelly and Lauren Hill. Then there is Leah Still…

Like most of you, I first heard of Leah this summer right after her father, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle, Devon Still was released from the team. What we would all soon find out is that their reason for releasing him was due to the fact that Leah is battling a rare form of pediatric cancer called neuroblastoma. Still came to the conclusion that in order to provide Leah with the care she needed, he would walk away from football. In one of the classiest moves ever by a professional sports organization, the Bengals informed Still that after being cut they would resign him to their practice squad. This move allowed Still to continue to receive health insurance thus ensuring Leah would receive the treatment she needs. Her medical expenses are expected to exceed $1 million and the NFL will cover 100 percent of the costs. A standing ovation is allowed at this moment.

The story spread rapidly. During a summer that was plagued with stories of domestic violence and child abuse, this gesture by the Bengals was a breath of fresh air. In an industry where the phrase, “It’s just business,” sours relationships and throws lives onto an emotional rollercoaster, it brought a smile to my face to see the powers that be put aside any thoughts of what can you do for me to view Still as what he is: human.

As news of the Bengals decision took over the news mediums, the organization took it a step further. Days after being signed to the practice squad, Still was upgraded to the active roster. After signing him to the 53 man team, the Bengals announced that they would donate all proceeds from the sale of Still’s number 75 jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research. Within 24 hours, Still’s jersey set a record for the most sales during that time span in Bengals history. Another standing ovation is allowed at this moment.

Not only have fans stepped up to the plate but different NFL organizations, players and sports figures have as well. The Philadelphia Eagles sent Leah toys and a basket full of goodies. New Orleans Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton, purchased 100 Still jerseys(in sizes small and medium) and donated them to the Pediatric Care Hospital in Cincinnati. Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly, who was recently went into remission, sent Leah and Devon a personal note along with an autographed football and jersey. Commentators have been photographed holding up signs with the moniker Still wears under his eyes and across the bridge of his nose every game, “Leah Strong.” And perhaps one of the biggest tearjerkers took place on October 5 during the Sunday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Bengals. During the third quarter, as a video tribute to Leah and other children battling cancer played on the big screen, the Patriots cheerleaders unzipped their jackets to reveal the fact that they were wearing Still’s number jersey underneath. The cheerleaders had taken a page out of the owner, Robert Kraft’s, book who announced he would make a $25,000 donation to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Leah’s name. Yep. Worthy of another standing ovation.

This is what I love about sports. The camaraderie. The selflessness. The unity. As I watched the Bengals take on the Cleveland Browns last night, I smiled. I smiled because I knew that Leah was attending her first NFL game. I smiled because I had seen pictures of her in her Still jersey, adorned with rhinestones as she posed for pictures with the Bengals cheerleaders. I smiled through the tears as cameras caught the touching moment between daughter and father as Leah waved emphatically, from her suite, at her father on the field. And remember those jerseys fans and supporters eagerly purchased? The Bengals, with Leah on the field, presented a check for $1.3 millions dollars to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital last nigh in her name. You know what to do. Standing o.

Whenever you have a moment, say a prayer for Leah, her father, all the little ones battling this disease and their families. Often times, for as much as their little bodies are having to bear, they tend to light up the room. Their “I can beat this” and “One day at a time” attitudes serve as a reminder to us to never give up. We have a lot of fight in us if we are willing to tap into it. In the midst of this ordeal, both Leah and her father have been very inspiring. His Instagram(man_of_still75) posts are filled with positivity, gratitude and love. Still offers up a glimpse of his relationship with his daughter. He gives her pep talks, she beat boxes and dances and they both enjoy life in the now. I admire the strength of this little four year old warrior and I pray that her strength will carry her into a life of remission. Continue to live “Leah Strong” babygirl! We are all rooting for you!

 

49ers, NFL, Panthers, Sports

Kassie’s NFL ReKap, Week 3

Interesting twists and turns in the NFL this week….

I have already discussed my Niners. No need to go there again.

My Panthers won!!! Finally. Yes! Yes! Yes! I mean I know the New Yawk Midgets sent their little league team to play but a win is a win!

The Bengals had a 14 point lead over the Vikings. Then they were down by 16. Then they won by four. Yeah, that really happened.

The Cowgirls beat down the Rams. Their nation rejoices, until December.

The Titans beat the Chargers. Jake Locker threw a TD pass to Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left to secure the victory. It was the first time the Titans had beaten the Chargers since 1992. I was 11.

The Chiefs are 3-0 after taking down the Eagles in Andy Reid return to Philly. The Chiefs already have more wins than last year. Could they be this year’s “it” team??

The Patriots moved to 3 and Oh with a win over the Bucs who are now Oh and 3. I wonder how long it will be before the pundits start to “fire Greg Schiano.”

Arizona could not muster up enough of anything to hang with the Saints. They were defeated 31-7 in NOLA. I hope they at least got some beignets before they left.

After being the dashing darlings of the NFC last year, winning the NFC East, the Redskins look like the Redskins of two years ago. Mistake after mistake. The Lions took advantage of that and squeaked out a 27-20 victory. The Redskins are now Oh and 3.

{I laugh everytime I see this...LOLOLOLOLOL} Source: Google Images
{I laugh everytime I see this…LOLOLOLOLOL}
Source: Google Images

The Ravens found them some offense. The Texans apparently could not find their defense.

Soooooooo, the Fins are 3 and Oh. Yeah, the Dolphins. Yes, the Miami Dolphins. who would’ve thunk it? I am sure the Falcons did not.

The Jets beat the Bills. Nothing to see here folks.

Seattle blasted Jacksonville. And Jaguars everywhere, in the zoo, in the wild, are embarassed.

Is anyone surprised at what is taking place in Pittsburgh? Their production level has been on a decline for the past couple of years. An Oh and 3 Steeler team though? They looked like they might get their first win when they managed to get within seven of the Bears. However, the Bears defense saw to it that they would not get any closer. #BearDown

1,143 yards passing. 12 touchdowns. No interceptions. Those are Peyton Manning’s number through three games. THREE GAMES. Oh yeah and the Broncos beat the Raiders last night. Ridiculous.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Football, NFL, Panthers, Sports, Uncategorized

Almost Jerry. Alllllllmost…..

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October 26, 1993. I still remember the breaking news from the sporting world that day. It was the day the Carolina Panthers were born and it was also the day I became a fan. In case you missed the memo, yes I am a 9ers and a Panthers fan regardless of what you say. You still can not question my fanhood!!! On this same day, I watched Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panthers, guarantee that the team would win a SuperBowl within their first 10 years of existence.

Fast forward to February 1, 2004, nine years after the Panthers first season(the Panthers started playing in 1995), SuperBowl XXXVIII(38). The Carolina Panthers vs. the New England Patriots. Could my Panthers really keep Jerry’s promise? After the way things had unfolded for my Panthers in the playoffs, anything was possible.

My Panthers easily dismissed the Dallas Cowboys in the first round to advance to a divisional playoff meeting with the St. Louis Rams. My Panthers were leading by 11 with three minutes to go when the improbable happened. The Rams tied the game!! In what will go down as one of the most exciting games I have ever watched, my Panthers managed to get the job done on the first play of the second overtime. QB Jake Delhomme hit WR Steve Smith in stride, the middle of the field for a 69 yard TD to send my Panthers to the NFC Championship. The clip of Delhomme celebrating that TD will never get old. Classic Jake :-}.

Next up was the opponent that stood between my Panthers and the SuperBowl, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles would play without their workhorse RB, Brian Westbrook and would later lose QB Donovan McNabb during the game due to an injury. My Panthers won 14-3 to advance to the big game.

Besides the fact that my team was playing in the game, one of the main reasons that this game stands out is because I was in Charlotte to watch the game. A friend was invited down by another friend and my friend invited me to come as well. Keep in mind that I lived a little over two hours from Charlotte and I had to be at work at 8:30 the next morning but of course that was not going to stop me from going to Charlotte for the anticipated celebration. We ate. We laughed. We cheered. We covered our eyes when Janet played peek-a-boo. And with about three minutes to go and the game tied, we began to prepare for the trip to downtown Charlotte to celebrate Jerry’s promise. We had full confidence in our team. Then former Patriot Adam Vinatieri happened. With four seconds left, he shattered the dreams of Jerry and millions of Panthers fans along the East Coast with a swift kick that sent the ball through the uprights and sent the New England Patriots home with the Lombardi Trophy.

As I drove home that night, well morning, I began to laugh because I could only imagine what time I would have been leaving Charlotte if we had won. I wondered what I would have told my supervisor when he would have caught me sleeping at my desk. I decided I would have told him the truth. He knew I was a die hard and he was a great sport when he lost our bet during the NFC Championship game(he was an Eagles fan). If we had won, I surely would not have been productive that day but it would have been well worth it!!!