Many of the former players I write about are all wonderfully unique in some way but absolutely no one comes close to the man, the myth, the legend, William Perry. I know from my own personal interactions with him while we were both at Clemson, he’s a real gentle giant.
As far as his nicknames, when Ray Brown, a teammate was trying to get on an elevator with his laundry basket, there was Perry. Brown wedged his way in. After the struggle, he commented that Perry was as big as a refrigerator, and it stuck, and ‘the Fridge’ was born.
Later, in Chicago, while playing for the Bears, his teammates called him ‘Biscuit.’ As in being one biscuit shy of 350 pounds. Ever the good sport, Perry just smiled with that gapped tooth smile and laughed. One thing to add, when he laughed, his whole body laughed. It was infectious.
Wearing No. 66 at Clemson, he was a member of the 1981 National championship team. He was first team All-American in 1983 and was drafted in the 1985 NFL draft, going in the first round, to the Bears. He had a stellar career. Unfortunately, Perry was caught in the middle of an open feud between head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan.
Ryan refused to play Perry even calling him a wasted draft pick. Ditka found a new, interesting way for Perry to get playing time. He became a running back leading the way for Hall of Famer, Walter Payton. He immediately became a legend, helping his Bears to a victory in Super Bowl XX.
Here are a few Interesting facts about Perry. His Super Bowl ring size is the largest of any professional football player in the history of the event. His ring size is 25, most mens ring size is a 10-12. Also, Perry won a Grammy Award in 1985 for his participation in the song, “Super Bowl Shuffle.” Both remarkable.
Perry went on to play for ten years in the NFL, retiring after the 1994 season. In his ten years as a pro, he regularly struggled with his weight, which hampered his performance at times. He played in 138 games, recording 29.5 sacks and five fumble recoveries. On the offensive side he ran two touchdowns, and had one reception for another touchdown.
As the son of a bricklayer, after leaving the NFL, he started his own masonry business. He was quite successful but health issues made him retire completely.
I was riding through his hometown of Aiken several years ago and by pure happenstance, I saw Perry riding his mobility scooter. I stopped and introduced myself, thinking he’d never remember me but he greeted me with a booming ‘Hey Sam!’
Through the travails of time, success, failure, and battling poor health, he was still the Fridge. Funny, I left him, sitting on his his front porch eating some fried chicken, and yes, a biscuit.
Maybe you were ‘one Biscuit way from 350 pounds’ but most that know you, knows of that 350, most of it was all heart.
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