When Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Lenny Walls lifted his jersey after getting an interception against Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray last season, it was out of nothing but respect.
Although it could have appeared Walls’ actions mocked the heartfelt tribute the Eskimos receivers offered the year before — by revealing Jason Tucker’s No. 83 after their teammate broke his neck — Walls said nothing could be further from the truth.
“I didn’t even know anything about that, actually. It had nothing to do with that at all,” said Walls, the newest name on the Eskimos’ roster where he is listed under jersey No. 27 — and for good reason.
He wears it to remember his friend and former Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, whose was the reason Walls lifted his jersey that day.
“Actually, it was a picture of Darrent Williams,” Walls said, of his friend and former Denver Broncos teammate, who was killed on Jan. 1, 2007, during a drive-by shooting in Denver. “I don’t go a day without thinking about him and I have a tattoo of his name and number on my chest.
“After I got Ricky Ray, I wanted to give an honour to (Williams).”
It’s something Walls does both on and off the field.
“I’m actually going to Denver next month for the sentencing of the guy who was found guilty in the murder,” said Walls. “We can’t bring (Darrent) back, that’s what hurts the most. But at least justice is served.
“I’m still really close with (Williams’s) mom. I’ll never forget him, he was like a little brother to me. That’s why I wear his number now.”
The departure of Kelly Malveaux from the Eskimos ranks this offseason made No. 27 available.
“I would have signed with Edmonton regardless,” Walls said. “I asked (Eskimos general manager) Danny (Maciocia) if I could get it and he said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”