6) Oct. 21, first Green Bay game—Fridge lines up in offensive backfield, twice obliterates LB George Cumby on blocks, scores rushing TD.
7) Nov. 3, second Green Bay game—Fridge catches pass for TD.
8) Nov. 3, ninth game—Fridge finally becomes starter at defensive tackle.
9) Nov. 17, 11th game—Fridge penalized for attempting to throw Walter Payton over goal line.
10) Dec. 22—Fridge runs 59 yards with fumble recovery against Detroit.
11) Jan. 26, 1986, Super Bowl—Fridge rolls out to pass near goal line. Later scores rushing touchdown.
And here is what it all meant. Numbers 1 and 2 stirred up public curiosity. No. 3 made the Fridge a sympathetic figure, not only because he was getting chastised, but also because we found out he was on a diet, something many Americans know about and loathe.
No. 4 made us start to forget about him, an essential precedent to heroic rebirth. It also showed us that the Fridge is not a complainer. Indeed, stoicism is important to Fridgemania. The Fridge shuts up and plays, or doesn't play, as the case may be. In his entire life he has never missed a football game because of injury. From preschool through high school he missed only one day of class. And that was because of an ice storm. "I don't tell nobody how I feel, less'n they come up to me and ask," says Fridge. "And then I tell 'em, 'Fine.' "
No. 5 tantalized us with Fridge's potential. No. 6 made history. The Fridge became the heaviest man in NFL annals to score a touchdown off a set play. His joyous post-touchdown spike made everybody howl. Chicago sportswriter Brian Hewitt declared Fridge the Falstaff of the Bears, the man who "entertained teammates, fans and the critics, all of whom might otherwise have been dwelling on the pressures of being unbeaten if Perry wasn't around to unburden their minds."
No. 7 showed everyone what an exceptional athlete the Fridge is. It was about this time, also, that the people from Coca-Cola came knocking. "We saw him drinking Coke on the sideline and found out that both he and Jim McMahon are lifelong Coke devotees," says Rudy Bechtel, Senior V.P. at the SSC&B advertising agency, which represents Coke. Voil�, the Fridge and McMahon made a Coke ad. Why did Coke go after Fridge? "Because he's such a likable guy, because he looks like he's having a good time, which is the essence of drinking a soft drink," says Bechtel. "Plus, 'Keep plenty of Coke in the Refrigerator,' was too good a slogan to pass up."