"A guy like two seats over stands up abruptly and runs around the side of the table," Freeman told ABC News in an interview that aired on "GMA" today.
"He was just pointing to it, pointing to his throat, pointing to his mouth," Freeman said about the incident Sunday at the airport in Austin, Texas.
The football star, a native of Waco, Texas, jumped into action and performed the Heimlich maneuver.
After just two attempts, he succeeded in dislodging the food stuck in the throat of the man.
"When I put the guy down he was like 'OMG you just saved my life,'" Freeman recalled.
The fast-acting linebacker took a photo with his new friend which he posted on Twitter.
The man he helped, Marcus Ryan, an attorney in Austin, told ABC News, "I will forever be grateful for his kindness and willingness to help a stranger ... A great person like him deserves to have a great season, and I'll be rooting for him."
Ryan told Freeman he thought his lifesaving efforts may have left him with a broken rib, to which Freeman said, laughing, "It was either your rib or your life."
ABC News' Nicole Curtis contributed to this report.