You're looking at the Fridge, I'm the rookie.
I may be large, but I'm no dumb cookie.
Perry did not entirely back up that claim in the years that followed. He vexed Ditka annually, reporting to camp scores of pounds overweight. The farther north of 320 the Fridge pushed the needle, the less effective a player he was. Ditka fined him, publicly humiliated him and all but eliminated his role with the offense. The Fridge carried the ball only once in 1986 and once in '87. Both times he fumbled.
Perry absorbed the fines and the insults with equanimity, only flashing temper when Iron Mike publicly criticized Sherry for allowing her husband's weight to balloon. "I told him," recalls the Fridge, 'You can say anything you want about me, that's fine. You say something about my wife, I got to put you back in your place. Because you got no right to talk about my wife. Whatever she's doing is her business.' He apologized."
Weary of his weight problems, the Bears waived the Fridge in '93. After one-and-a-half nondescript seasons with the Eagles, he found himself in London, where the Fleet Street press delighted in reporting how many stone he weighed, and where he single-handedly doubled attendance at Monarchs games. "It was all fun," said Perry, while discussing the fleeting nature of his NFL fame with a British reporter in 1996. "It came, and it went."
This bad body has always housed this good attitude. "I had some god-given talent," says the Fridge. "I put in 10 years in the league. I'm grateful for that, and I'm happy that it's over. I'm real happy where I am now."
His life is more than full. He and Sherry have three girls and a boy: Latavia, 17, Norie, 14, "Little" William, 8, and Sherria, 3. The Fridge's work is hard and satisfying. If he's put on a few (dozen) pounds since his playing days, Perry still contends that he's in pretty good shape. "You put up six scaffolds, then lay brick all day in 100-degree heat," he says, still smiling. "We'll see what kind of shape you're in."
When he's not working, he heads for the water. "Don't get no better than this," says Perry, sitting on the deck of the boat. A zephyr ripples the water of Lake Thurmond. The bream and shellcrackers are biting. The big man is asked if he misses celebrity and its trappings. Here it comes again, the gap-toothed grin. "This is me now," he says. "Those things you're talking about, that's just stuff in the breeze."