The Fridge. Of all the nicknames in football, William Perry’s moniker was among the greatest. The gentle giant, with trademark gapped teeth, William Perry, was a space eating destructive force at DT and in the middle for the Clemson Tigers. Mike Ditka and the Bears would snatch him up in the first round of the 1985 draft. A fan favorite, Perry earned the nickname, “The Refrigerator” because of his frame and weight, – the latter which has continuously been an embarrassing issue in his life. He’d anchor the center of the Bears vaunted 46 defense in Super Bowl XX. The team set numerous defensive records en route to a 15-1 record and the title. During the Super Bowl against the Patriots, Perry also got to try his hand carrying the ball at fullback and also scored a touchdown. The team also was a media darling, loaded with personalities, going so far as to record a SuperBowl video before the game was even played in which the lovable Perry with his gap tooth smile would perform. I even had his GI Joe “The Fridge” mail in action figure at one point, that had a chained mace styled to look like a football. (- Yes Hasbro was struggling with ideas by then.) He even capitalized off of his fame to become a wrestler briefly, appearing in WrestleMania II.
In 1989 his ProSet card became the most valuable card in the collection after it was accidentally printed. Very few were released, and he’d be replaced in the ’89 edition by Ron Morris. Although he’d appear in later card sets and editions of ProSet, his 1989 card was rumored to have been pulled because it showed his correct weight. I liked the Score and Skybox in particular because they really compliment him well. The Score shows him roving the field like a giant Great White, while the Skybox gives him the appearance that he is about to explode off the line.
The Fridge would continue to play for the Bears through 1993, before his weight and injuries became a distraction. Perry signed with the Eagles midway through the 1993 season after being cut from the Bears, -retiring after the 1994 season. It was very odd seeing him in an Eagles uniform. While his numbers in the NFL were not eye popping, with 29.5 sacks, “The Fridge” was a ‘hat guy’ that you needed to put two bodies on to stop from moving up field or occupying space. The first problem is when you assigned 2 guys to him, it freed up somebody else on the D line to come through, like Steve McMichael or Richard Dent. The other problem was Perry would plug up the middle so badly that it made it hard to run inside on the Bears.
After playing in the NFL, Perry was not done yet. With the re-emergence of the WLAF, retooled as the NFLE, Perry attempted a comeback playing for the London Monarchs 1996. Although a lovable poster boy for the team, Perry and the Monarchs did not fare well enough to make the playoffs and he’d re-retire after the season. He’s kept himself busy though, despite being debilitated by both his weight and Guillain Barre Syndrome. “The Fridge” has remained an endearing 80’s icon as well appearing regularly at functions around the US and his hometown of Aiken,SC dabbling in things ranging from equity investments to hot dog eating contests. He’s participated in football events for the Lingerie League and the Continental Indoor Football League (Chicago Slaughter) and was inducted into the Pro Wrestling HoF in 2006.
I had no problem paying a small signing fee for the gentle giant. With his struggles with Guillain Barre and his weight leaving him bed ridden at some points and haven been taken care of his brother Michael Dean, it was the least I could do. The autographs were a bit light on these cards, as he autographed them in a fading silver sharpie, but I was very happy to lodge him as my first success for 2012.
G/Gs 138/111 Tac 506 Sac 29.5 Fum 5 Int 0 Yds 0 Avg -.- Td 0 Lg -.-