He sat deep in a locker, tears streaming down his face, a mobile phone pressed against an ear as the celebration carried on around him.
Sporting contests carry their lot of emotion, it's all right for it to spill down the line to a loved one.
Montreal Alouettes running back Brandon Rutley knows what it's like to be the yo-yo at the end of the string that is pro football, having been a roster casualty of the Oakland Raiders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Als.
The 25-year-old Californian had been out of the sport for nearly 18 months when he showed up at Als' training camp in June; he was inked to a practice roster spot, activated for a game, cut in August, then re-signed to the practice roster a few weeks later.
On Sunday, he started in place of injured Tyrell Sutton (himself subbing in for the crocked Brandon Whitaker) in the East semi-final against the B.C. Lions.
Fifteen carries, four catches, 98 rushing yards and a touchdown later, he was basking in the glow of a 50-17 playoff triumph and dabbing at his eyes after hanging up with Michelle, his girlfriend of five years.
"We've been working for this for the last four years. It's an emotional time, I knew she'd be happy, everybody's watching at home," the 25-year-old Rutley said. "She's been with me through the struggles and the difficult times, so of course I wanted to call her. She's seen me break down and cry from being released, trying to find a place, she's been there."
On the strength of his showing Sunday – Rutley's hard running keyed a touchdown drive to open the third quarter that effectively broke the game open – the San Jose State University product should get the call again in next week's Eastern Final.
Symmetrically enough, the Als will travel to Hamilton with their mind set on revenge for a loss on the final weekend of the regular season, although Rutley says he bears no grudges for being dropped in 2012.
The Ticats are of course unbeaten since moving into their new stadium, this is not a source of great concern to the Als.
"We have to just go in and play our football. Streaks are meant to be broken," said cornerback Jerald Brown, who had an interception and also ran a fourth-quarter Stefan Logan fumble back 103 yards for a touchdown (a franchise playoff record).
Any satisfaction the Als felt at dismembering the Leos in a game that was a 1-0 punt-fest after one quarter (the teams combined for more penalty yards than total offence) will evidently be transitory.
"Zero enjoyment," said linebacker Bear Woods, who also recorded an interception. "We have a mission at Hamilton next week."
Asked about the 29-15 loss to Hamilton eight days ago, Woods said "that's the regular season, they won that one, we're going to win this one."
Pressed on whether he was guaranteeing victory, he said "I hope they're guaranteeing they can beat us, that's the mentality both teams have, I know that. Which is going to make for good football for all the fans in the CFL."
It could well be the Als, who set a new high-water mark this season for points, will continue the offensive onslaught in southern Ontario – defence isn't this team's problem.
But the Ticats aren't piloted by Kevin Glenn, a 14-year veteran who put up a minus-1.6 quarterback rating at the helm of the Lions' offence (he was lifted in the third quarter after going 6-of-18 for 64 yards and two interceptions).
Glenn is now 4-7 in the playoffs in his career.
Lions coach Mike Benavides was shell-shocked after the game, saying "there's no way to explain this."
The men in orange may have hoped pivot Travis Lulay, the injured former Grey Cup MVP, would make a miracle recovery from his wonky shoulder, it was not to be.
Benavides said "we had the discussion" on bringing in Lulay, but after the warm-up he "wasn't feeling he could contribute."
Another notable problem was discipline – B.C. extended two first-half touchdown drives with penalties – and the Lions' defensive front, which simply couldn't cope with the Als' running game; the score was 15-3 at half, but there was no doubt over who was the better squad.
"From the kickoff in the second half, the drive to open the third quarter … we felt the game was ours," said Alouette head coach Tom Higgins, who saw his team pile up 38 second-half points, punctuated by back-up running back Chris Rainey's 64-yard touchdown scamper.
That it all unfolded before a meagre crowd – announced at 15,107 – will be the day's only disappointment.
Als president Mark Weightman said the short window for ticket-buyers and a season-ticket policy that doesn't include automatic playoff purchases help explain the low turnout.
"We've had a great sequence to end the season, but we've had a couple of years now where we haven't had as much success … hopefully 50-17 will convince (fans)," he said.