The Cincinnati Bengals decided to release Devon Still on Saturday, making this the second time Still hasn’t survived the teams preseason roster cuts.
After three years, the defensive tackle is now a free agent, making him eligible to sign with any of the other 31 NFL teams.
“He really did a good job this preseason and it’s an unfortunate part of professional sports that not everyone can stay there and be there in the end,” Marvin Lewis, Bengals coach said in a conference call.
Still spoke to ESPN about the cut, telling them that he understands why he was released.
“They made the best decision that they felt would bring that city a Super Bowl,” He told ESPN on the phone while waiting for a flight to Philadelphia. “I have nothing but respect for the organization.”
He made his feelings on the subject known on Instagram, posting a photo of himself clad in his Bengals uniform, with the caption, “Have nothing but love for the Bengals organization and the city of Cincinnati. Both helped me through one of the darkest times of my life and I am forever grateful. It’s time to move forward and see what’s next #iKnowThereIsAPlanForMe”
As many NFL fans may know, Still’s daughter, Leah, received international acclaim for her cancer battle, which was made public last fall. Still told fans he wanted to be a voice for families who also have children battling cancer. He has dedicated time raising money and awareness for the research in various pediatric cancers.
The Bengals raised over $1.2 million for pediatric cancer research in November, through the sale of Still’s jersey.
Leah has been in remission since March.
Players are guaranteed five years of health insurance after leaving the league.
During Stills ESPYS Perseverance Award acceptance speech he credited the Bengals, stating, “To the Bengals—you all set the example for corporate America. You let everybody know what it’s like for an employer to stick behind its employee when we can do nothing for you. To Coach Lewis, to the Brown family—I can honestly say I love you all for allowing me to be a father first, and putting football secondary. You all helped me save my daughter’s life.”
“For both Devon and the Bengals, we want to this year just focus on football and make sure everything was right for our football team,” Lewis stated in the conference call.
Many fans were outraged at the Bengal’s decision on Saturday, saying they were no longer going to follow or support the organization.
“People are saying they’re not going to be going to games or they lost respect for the organization,” Still told ESPN. “I just want to clear everything up with everybody. The Bengals did everything that they could to help me with my daughter.”
Still was cut in the final round of roster cuts, and it was all due to numbers in the end. Cincinnati tried to hold onto him. Still was on the practice squad until he was moved back onto the 53-man roster for Week 2 of the regular season. A hamstring injury that happened late preseason and the emotional toll of his 4-year-old daughter’s cancer left him in a position that made him unfit to start on the regular season active roster.
Having lost 27 pounds while training away from Cincinnati in the offseason, Still performed well during the preseason. Coaches were reportedly pleased with his performance. But, in the end, the Bengals had entered training camp with 10 players who were competing for five defensive tackle spots on the roster.
“I went out there and played,” Still said after Thursday’s preseason finale game. “Hopefully the coaches like what I’ve done and I make the ballclub. If not, hopefully I’ve got a chance to make it somewhere else.”
In June, defensive line coach Jay Hayes explained the difficulty in deciding what to do with Still.
“The whole thing of who is the best guy is about who is the best guy. This is the NFL. That’s what it’s about,” Hayes said. “It’s not about who had the hardest road. That’s not how this is built. We are just trying to put the best guys out there.”