The NFL Network (and, evidently, enormous caterpillars with human faces) have identified the sugary-awful emotional center of tonight's battle of Ohio: a 4-year-old named Leah Still, the daughter of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still. She's attending the Browns-Bengals game tonight. It's the first time she has seen her dad play, in part because she's been busy undergoing abdominal cancer surgery, a brand of hellish horseshit no kid should have to put up with.
Over the summer she was diagnosed with stage fucking 4 neuroblastoma — some kind of gawdawful mess of WTF that you and I couldn't explain worth a damn, so you know it doesn't make any semblance of sense to a 4-year-old. We still live in a country where people know a jacked-up situation when they see it. Folks bought a bona fide pissload of Devon Still jerseys, despite his being an otherwise unremarkable NFL player, leading the Bengals to donate about $1.35 million to Cincinnati Children's Medical Center. I mean, the BENGALS, of all historically pucker-assed operations, spent north of a million bucks out of the kindness of their raggedy souls just on the hopes that it would improve the lives of children stricken with disease. Hell, they basically kept a grieving, distracted Devon Still on the practice squad just so he'd keep the health insurance.
Can we call this a feel-good story? Well, Ellen got involved, which usually means some schmuck du jour is going home with a novelty check and a bunch of new soccer-mom Instagram followers, and sure enough, she handed out a big check to kick cancer in the face. And it'd bring a tear to a glass eye to watch a young dad and his daughter checking in on one another, as the girl sees him play for the first time, and he contemplates what a motherfucker it is to have a kid who is going through whatever it brings to be riddled with cancer when you're 4 and should be romping through leaf piles or watching cartoons about talking animals or writing code or whatever the hell kids do these days for fun.
You could get in on this anti-cancer check-writing, because you probably spend a bunch of money on cigarettes and green smoothies when instead you could be giving a thin shit about someone else. No, it's fine. No need, you say. Someone else will handle it. Sure, bud. You're free to do whatever. But consider: There's a kid out there tonight at turns wearing a surgical mask over her face as she enjoys the best night of her life so far, a night that she'll remember for the rest of what could turn out to be a short life. And at some point, if things take a turn for the worse, she'll think back on this night, and remember when she was happiest. That moment? It'll be a Browns-Bengals game. Cancer, nightmare monster asshole-face.
Photo credit: AP