"I was born to be big," he says proudly. "And I ain't disappointing nobody."
The dour old NFL needs this guy. Just consider what passes for novelty these days. The fake punt. Tight ends in motion. Bed sheets saying JOHN 3:16. Then comes the Fridge, a gigantic load of mirth and girth, No. 72 in the backfield, a blob from the trenches running—running—the sacred ball. Scoring. High-fiving. Saying to folks: "Fat attack." Think of the possibilities.
Fridge lumbered more or less into America's consciousness as a 360-pound All-America nosetackle at Clemson and a 330-pound first-round draft choice, presumably as a defensive lineman, of the Chicago Bears last spring. But he roared into America's heart on Monday night Oct. 21 when, playing fullback, he became the heaviest man in NFL history to score a touchdown off a set play. He also plowed the way for two Walter Payton scores that night.
Media reps freaked out over Fridge. When the TV monitors showed the first slo-mo of Perry enveloping Green Bay linebacker George Cumby the way a corpuscle attacks a germ, shrieks of "Mockery!" and "Inertia!" rang out.
When the hysterics ended, everybody pondered the facts: Bears coach Mike Ditka had used a defensive tackle, the heaviest man on the team, to spearhead three TDs in a 23-7 win. Jeez, this is the NFL. Can you do that? Should you?
It was, wrote Chicago Sun-Times columnist Ray Sons, "the best use of fat since the invention of bacon."
Fridge liked it, too.
"When Coach first asked me if I'd play fullback in short-yardage situations, I laughed," he says. "I carried the ball a couple times back in high school in Aiken, S.C., just having fun. I'll do anything to help the Bears win. Offense. It seems like they have fun all the time."
At somebody's expense. Ask the Packers' Cumby, who took on Fridge on all three of his offensive plays that night.
"The first time, I figured I'd take a side," says the 224-pound Cumby. "It didn't matter which. I guess, because one is as big as another. The second time, I hit him flush. That didn't work, either." The third time? Same problem. "I was outweighed by a few pounds."