New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton on Wednesday bought 100 Devon Still jerseys, giving an assist to the Cincinnati Bengals third-year defensive tackle whose daughter is battling cancer.
Still's 4-year-old daughter, Leah, has Stage 4 pediatric cancer. She's currently in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The Bengals announced this week that all proceeds of Still's jersey sales from the Bengals Pro Shop will be donated toward pediatric cancer research.
Still, who began the season on the practice squad partly due to a hamstring injury he suffered in preseason, was signed to the active roster Tuesday. In keeping Still, the Bengals helped ensure he'd have the league's health insurance to pay for Leah's treatments. Still said those medical costs could reach $1 million.
It was on Tuesday night that Payton, while driving home from work, heard the story and was so moved by it that he bought the jerseys out of his own pocket.
"Driving home the other night, I heard the story about Devon Still and what he is going through with his daughter on the radio," Payton said. "As a parent, myself…I couldn't help to think about the situation he was in.
"I thought it was a class move by (Bengals owner) Mike Brown, (Coach) Marvin Lewis, and the entire Bengals organization to keep him on their roster and allow him to get the proper benefits so he could give the best care to his child.
"What I did was just a small token to a very worthwhile cause. I wish them nothing but the best, and am hoping that his daughter will make a full recovery."
Payton donated all of the jerseys, sized small and medium, to the Pediatric Care Hospital in Cincinnati.
Jeff Berding, the director of sales and public affairs for the Bengals, said Payton's purchase was "incredibly generous" and an example of "the heart that Coach Payton has," but that it wasn't a total shock.
Berding recalled Payton and the Saints' coaching staff making it a priority to attend the funeral of Mike Zimmer's wife in 2009. Zimmer, who currently is head coach of the Vikings, then was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator.
Berding said he sat directly behind Payton and his staff at the service. "From that memory, I was not surprised that he purchased the jerseys in support of Devon and his daughter," he said.
Payton's gesture showed that despite the fact that teams and coaches weekly are in competition, the NFL truly is a family, Berding said.
Still's jersey is available here.
Photos from New Orleans Saints practice on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. Photos taken by Alex Restrepo (New Orleans Saints photos)