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.
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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