He was arguably the best defensive player on the Canad Inns Stadium field Thursday night.
But Winnipeg defensive end Gavin Walls almost did not even play that CFL game against the Montreal Alouettes.
"My mom called me (Thursday) morning and left me a message saying my uncle had died Tuesday," Walls said after the Blue Bombers had beaten the Als 32-23.
And that news hit him hard.
"I was kind of sulky and didn't really want to play the game because my uncle's close," Walls said among the post-game bedlam after the victory.
"So, it was a just one of those things, man. Something happens, people die, family. Adversity strikes and it was a big test for me. Was I going to get down or lay down?
"We were very, very close so, I just hate to see him gone and I just had a couple of problems and it is what it is. I know he's in a better place."
Walls decided to play, then went out loaded for Birds of the Alouette variety. And he recorded six defensive tackles, two quarterback sacks and recovered a fumble.
"It was all for him," said Walls, 27. "And hopefully, I'll try to play a game for him every week."
A week ago, Walls said he was determined to get off to a quicker start to the season than he did the year before when he led the East with 11 sacks.
Whether it was because Walls was still feeling down or not, the Bomber defence got off to a slow start Thursday as the Als jumped to a 13-0 first-quarter lead. But the Bomber defenders then held that once-vaunted team to field goals the rest of the way.
"It's the CFL, you jump out early, there's a lot of football left," said the 6-foot-2, 232-pound Walls. "There were three other quarters left to play. I guess they felt good about their 13 points but we knew that, if we turn around and play football, what we're capable of doing -- Blue Bombers style -- we'll make it a long day for them."
The front seven certainly did make it a long day for the Als as they sacked Montreal quarterbacks seven times, with defensive tackle Doug Brown chipping in with two. Defensive end Tom Canada, defensive lineman Jerome Haywood and linebacker Cam Hall had the others.
Even Bomber head coach Doug Berry admired their effort.
"We started off shaky but the last three quarters, I'm telling ya, you don't want to play these guys," he said rather ominously. "They were filling the gaps very aggressively. The (pass) coverage was good enough because the front was ferocious in the pass rush. I hope we can stay in this groove because we're in one right now.
"We felt we didn't get much pressure against Edmonton (last week). We wanted to create some one-on-ones in block protection and see if we could make something happen with pressure, and we did. It was good to see that. It makes these guys feel real good, I know that."
Walls credited defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall.
"Coach Marshall had a good game plan for us," Walls said. "Guys were flying around, getting sacks left and right. That makes the quarterbacks nervous and that's the style of football we like to play.
"In the first quarter, we had our heels back. We should have played our type of football in the first quarter ... We can't come out and play three quarters; we've got to play four quarters."