Devon Still and his family were thrust into the national spotlight in June 2014, when the young daughter of the then-Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman, Leah, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer.
Still was about to begin his third NFL season at the time, a second-round pick who was struggling to crack the Bengals’ rotation. Struggling to focus on the practice field and coming off back surgery, he was cut by Cincinnati but re-signed to the practice squad to make sure he’d have health insurance to cover Leah’s medical expenses, though he was elevated to the 53-man roster just a few weeks later.
Fast-forward three years. Leah is cancer-free and has walked fashion runways, been honored and celebrated for the beautiful face she and her dad put on her fight, and they’ve established a foundation to help other families with children battling cancer – but her dad is struggling to find his place in the NFL.
On Monday, the New York Jets announced they’d released Still, less than a month after signing him. New York is the third team in three years to release the 28-year old; the Bengals did in September 2015, and Still spent that season out of football. Last year, Still was with the Houston Texans and played in three games before being placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.
Still posted this to his Twitter account just before word came of his release:
Life never goes the way we plan but when you work hard because that's just who you are then eventually that hard work will turn into success pic.twitter.com/JcRil8vKwY
— Devon Still (@Dev_Still71) August 28, 2017
“Work hard, not for a goal, but because it’s who you are,” the photo says.
On Instagram, Still used the same photo but with a longer caption: “Life rarely goes the way we plan so you must learn to stop working hard JUST to reach a certain goal because the moment you hit adversity or your goal no longer seems [attainable] you will become discouraged and quit. Work hard because that’s just who you are and eventually that hard work will turn into success.”
The Jets waived Still to make room for safety Armageddon Draughn, who might have the best name in the NFL.