"You can’t get between a man and his brisket."
When it comes to anticipating and reacting to plays on the field, linebackers have to be quick thinkers and have even faster feet. Fortunately, Chicago Bears football star Jerrell Freeman was able to apply his athletic skills off the field, in a truly heroic effort to save a man’s life at an Austin airport.
On Sunday, July 23, the Waco, Texas, native was enjoying a chopped brisket sandwich from the Salt Lick Taco Bar while waiting on his flight back to Chicago for training camp. Freeman’s lunch was going as planned until he saw a man at a nearby table in distress. The man, who was also eating brisket, raced to the other side of the table, with a look of concern on his face.
"He was just pointing to it, pointing to his throat, pointing to his mouth," Freeman recalled in an interview with ABC News.
After an older lady was unsuccessful in administering the Heimlich maneuver, Freeman, with all the strength of his 6-foot, 236-pound body frame, came to the man’s rescue. It took two forceful attempts, but Freeman was finally able to dislodge the food stuck in the man’s throat.
"I grabbed him again and hit him again with it," Freeman added in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "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 man Freeman assisted has since been identified as Marcus Ryan, a lawyer in Austin, Texas. They posed together for a photo, where Freeman tweeted about the airport incident.
I will forever be grateful for his kindness and willingness to help a stranger," Ryan told ABC News. "A great person like him deserves to have a great season, and I'll be rooting for him.
Later, Ryan joked that Freeman’s strong Heimlich method may have left him with a broken rib, to which Freeman responded, "It was either your rib or your life."
However, in a strange turn of events, (perhaps not all that surprising to us Southerners), Ryan actually went back to devouring his brisket, despite the near-death choking experience.
WATCH: Texas-Style Chili with Brisket
"Hey, I guess that was some good brisket," said Freeman. "He wasn’t about to let that go to waste. You can’t get between a man and his brisket. I get it."
We guess this is proof that Texans really do mean it when they say, don’t mess with Texas...or their barbecue.