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Leah Still expected to be part of Bengals' ceremony

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When the players change ends during the first and second quarter of Thursday night's Cincinnati Bengals-Cleveland Browns tussle on NFL Network, some important people will step into the spotlight.

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During the quarter break, a brief ceremony will take place when the Bengals donate a $1.25 million check to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to help fight pediatric cancer. The money was raised through sales of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still's No. 75 jersey.

Still's 4-year-old daughter, Leah, who is battling cancer, has been the impetus behind the effort, with numerous NFL teams being among those buying the jerseys.

Still told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Leah, who has been recovering from multiple surgeries in Philadelphia, is expected to be part of Thursday's ceremony.

"I'll be able to touch her, I'll be able to hug her, which is totally different from being able to FaceTime her," Devon Still said of his daughter. "I can't wait until she shows up here Wednesday and can go to her first game here. The crowd will go crazy. They've been supporting her this whole time with her being all the way in Philadelphia, and I know her being in Cincinnati, them having a chance to see her, is going to get the crowd kind of hyped up."

The 4-year-old had a cancerous tumor removed Sept. 25 and still must undergo radiation treatment. The defensive tackle expects to be pumped up about playing in front of his daughter.

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"It's going to be added motivation just knowing my daughter is watching me," said Still. "I want her to be able to hear how the crowd cheers that loud whenever I make a tackle, so I'm going to go out there and do whatever I can to put a smile on her face. It's a fast week and I don't want to get caught up in too much emotion with my daughter, (but) it will probably be the most special game I'm ever going to play because I know my daughter is going to be here to watch me play.

"All the money that's been raised for the cancer research is because of her strength and because she's fighting this disease. So it's definitely going to be an emotional game for me."

Some bean-counters might disagree, but I think this is one time NFL Network should eschew going to commercial and air the ceremony in its entirety live. Leah and the rest of the young people battling cancer deserve as much.

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