Cincinnati Bengals: “Earning Their Stripes”


Which Bengal “Earned His Stripes” this week? Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

During a bye week, it is difficult to name a player or players who may have contributed to the Bengals’ success on the field and ”
“Earned their Stripes.” After careful consideration, there is one member of this organization that has certainly stepped up and shown all of us what it means to be heroes.  In the face of darkness, this tiny voice has echoed throughout the National Football League and united a football nation.

This voice belongs to four-year-old Leah Still.  By now, we’ve all heard about Leah. We’ve heard about the Bengals quietly signing her dad, Devon Still, so that he could continue to provide his daughter’s health care treatments and we’ve heard about how the Bengals’ Pro Shop is selling Devon Still jerseys for $100 and giving all the money to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital.

This isn’t about what we already know, or do not know, this is about “Earning Her Stripes.”  This is about the courage of a four-year-old girl to stand tall and undergo nearly six hours of surgery to remove a now shrunken tumor.  This is about a mom and dad who have to remain strong in undoubtedly their weakest moments to show a united front for their little girl, who doesn’t understand why she can’t play with her friends right now.

This is the story the NFL needed to see.  The NFL and Roger Goodell needed a reminder of what being a true leader is.  The NFL seems to have lost all bearing of right and wrong.  Power, greed, and the NFL’s decision to police itself have grown this monster into a perfect storm of lost dignity.  In today’s NFL, it took an enormously sad story and a four-year-old girl, stricken with stage 4 cancer, to teach all of us the importance of something as fragile as life itself.  NFL fans everywhere decided, “no more,” as we unite around this family and around their little girl.

Since the Bengals announced all of the proceeds from Devon Still jerseys would go to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the response was immediate and overwhelming.  This response made Devon Still’s jersey the fastest selling one in team history.  The Bengals have raised $1,000,000 towards pediatric cancer research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  While Goodell and company continue to spin the suspension roulette wheel, fans of the NFL have pushed past this to become strong.  Some say Bengals nation, and fans alike are Still Strong, but at the end of this line is a beautiful little girl reminding us all that we are all Leah Strong.

You can continue to do your part in the effort to fight Pediatric cancer by purchasing a Devon Still jersey or pledging money per sack  produced by the Bengals.