It’s a good thing Jerrell Freeman decided to have one last cheat meal before training camp.
The Bears linebacker made a last-minute call for some brisket at the airport in Austin Sunday, when he encountered a man who was choking, and saved him with the Heimlich maneuver.
According to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, Freeman said the man initially just looked disoriented, before he realize how serious the situation was.
“Like he had forgotten something and was about to go running for it,” Freeman said. “But then he went around the table and started to look a little frantic. I’m thinking, ‘Man, this is odd. Maybe one of his kids walked off and he can’t find his kid or something?’”
Instead, the man was choking on his own brisket, and an older woman initially tried to perform the Heimlich herself, before yielding to an NFL linebacker who could put a little more force behind the move. Freeman said he’s never performed the move previously, but was taught by his mother, a nurse, how to do it.
“I grabbed him and tried to squeeze the life out of him,” Freeman said. “You’ve got to push in and up. So I did that and he started throwing up what he was choking on. I asked him if he was all right and he shook his head like ‘No!’
“I grabbed him again and hit him again with it. And when I put him down the second time, his eyes got big. He was like, ‘Oh, my god! I think you just saved my life, man!’ It was crazy.”
The choking victim, a man named Marcus Ryan, eventually introduced himself and mentioned his ribs were a little sore, when he realized an NFL player had dislodged his food in a rather forceful way.
Then both men were able to enjoy their brisket, chewing carefully.
“Crazy,” Freeman said. “Hey, I guess that was some good brisket. He wasn’t about to let that go to waste. You can’t get between a man and his brisket. I get it.”
Fortunately, Freeman was at the right place at the right time to help the victim, and the Bears can only hope he has the same kind of impact for them.