Is it possible for an organization to have a worse P.R. week and a half than the NFL has? Multiple NFL players have committed or are accused of committing horrid abuse upon defenseless woman and children.
Should we football fans feel guilty for watching the NFL, despite the actions of the players and the league’s handling of these actions? Should we shrug and say we’re simply out of control fanatics who need our fix of football? I say no.
And that is not only because the team I root for – the Philadelphia Eagles – have begun the season 2-0 despite falling behind by 14 or more points in their first two games. This, by the way, is the first time that has ever occurred.
No, that is not the reason the NFL doesn’t suck. The NFL is a huge organization which includes nearly 1,700 players plus owners, coaches, trainers, and other personnel. As has been brought to light, some of those associated with the NFL have conducted themselves in ways that they should be ashamed of. However, as everyone has heard many times, don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Devon Still reminds us that not all NFL players are uncontrolled brutes.
Earlier this summer, Still’s 4-yeard old daughter was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He says of his daughter, “She captured my world right from the start. Learning of her condition made me feel like I was hit by a train.” So, when Still was ultimately told he was cut by Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes, his heart was elsewhere. “Two months ago, this conversation would have been way harder, but right now it’s not hitting me that hard.” Still went on to recount his daughter’s battle with cancer. (By the way, Still played college football at Penn State. You see I do still notice these things about my alma mater. Check out my previous post on background of this issue – Figuring Out How to Be a Penn State Fan In the Post-Sandusky World)
In fact, Still had considered taking the year off to be with his daughter, whose chances for survival were 50/50. Can’t every parent relate to the dilemma he must have been feeling when it came to his career? Eventually, Still decided to continue his career at the urging of his family and friends, and because he needed health insurance.
Now that he was out of the league, he would not have health insurance. However, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis had a plan for Still. “We wanted to make sure he was covered,” said Lewis. So, the team signed him to the practice squad, which meant he would have full health coverage. Still was grateful for the team’s loyalty. “I wanted to make the roster but I have a lot of stuff going on right now that I can’t give football 100 percent. They could have just washed their hands completely of it.”
Ultimately, Still was signed off the practice squad and back onto the team. This requires the player to travel and therefore be away from his daughter. Yet, the Bengals allow Still to travel home whenever he needed to in order to see his daughter. The team went one step further. The Bengals donated all the proceeds from sales of Still’s jersey to pediatric cancer research. Within 24 hours, the jersey became the fastest seller in team history. It’s no surprise then that Still says the outpouring from fans has helped him to cope.
There are many heroes in this story. Countless people have stepped up to support a 4-year old girl and the father who loves her.
No, the NFL does not suck.
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Pic is Courtesy of Google Images