Unless your name is Keith Rivers, you’ve probably never had a panic attack across from Hines Ward.
Well, I did.
We were broadcasting live from Hines Ward’s restaurant. Usually my plan of action is to sit down and grab a quick beer before the show starts to help me settle in. But because it was a 40-minute hike to get out there, I didn’t have time to do my pre-show ritual.
I sat down to do the broadcast with the bar to my right and a wall to my immediate left. Brian, my boss, and Alex, the onsite engineer, were on either side of me.
It was a little tight where they had us set up.
It’s important to note here that I’m a tad claustrophobic. By that I mean I hate crowds, elevators, when people sit too close to me, subway systems… you get the picture.
Claustrophobia aside, the food was great, the people were friendly, and we were having a good time.
Enter Hines, and with him a stampede of fans that was thick enough to stir up emotions of my first childhood loss, Mufasa.
I had also just eaten a delicious cheeseburger that was covered in jalapenos (meat sweats are a real thing). I was perspiring from my brow as the Steelers number one all-time pass catcher sat down in the seat beside me.
I was hot. I was boxed in. And for some reason my brain associated this gaggle of Hines fans with the death of a cartoon lion.
I then found myself talking to a Steelers legend as the hoard of black and gold lurched closer to our table with every passing second.
After every question that I asked, my mind went from the interview to me asking internally if I was going to pass out.
I did not. But I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was getting light headed. Or was I? Sure felt like it.
The interview wrapped up. The tide of Steelers fans receded. I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
Not unlike #86, Simba, and the acid from the jalapeños, I hung in there. It seems this wasn’t a full-blown panic attack where I was unable to function. This was a win.
Number of panic attacks I had today: 1.
Chance that the jalapeño burger doesn’t come back to hurt me: 0%
(Semicolon count: 0)