In November, the Bears organization staged its 25th anniversary reunion of the ’85 team, and planned a raucous weekend in Chicago. The Fridge didn’t attend, and when asked why, he says, "I didn’t even know of the anniversary.”
The truth is, he did know about it and filmed a video message to be read at the event. But the mind of William Perry is going again, and no one knows where it’ll end up. According to Michael Dean and Valerie, he’s also been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, although Valerie rolls her eyes because she cannot get him to take his medication.
His life now
The unfinished home he lives in is cold. The heat doesn’t work in all spaces of the cavernous house. He sits all day watching his TV, wearing Topsiders with no socks, sitting sometimes in his own urine. His family says he is incontinent; it’s another one of his issues. But sometimes, it’s just too difficult to stand up and simply walk to the bathroom.
Ditka knows only bits and pieces of this, and he says the last time he spoke to the Fridge, he felt he understood that he couldn’t drink, that this was "his last chance.”
Perry doesn’t believe he’s putting himself in jeopardy, though. He looks in the mirror and he sees a body that now weighs 400 pounds. That’s better than 190, he says. That’s progress, he says. He still does occasional autograph signings in Chicago, making a bit of cash here and there. He says he can’t be in too bad of shape if he can climb onto a plane and write his name 100 times. He says he can’t be too bad off if he can still recite lyrics to the "Super Bowl Shuffle." He says he can’t be too sick if he’s down to only one or two beers a night.
The gap in his teeth is gone. The gap between William Perry and reality has apparently taken its place.
On a sultry June afternoon four years after his final football game, the ex-Chicago Bear, ex-Philadelphia Eagle, ex-London Monarch and one-time Super Bowl Shuffler is doing what he most enjoys: "wettin’ a hook." Piloting the boat in search of crappie is Perry’s father-in-law, Crosby Broadwater, known hereabouts as Mr. B. The Fridge, Mr. B and Mr. B’s son Robert co-own a subcontracting company out of Aiken, S.C.The Fridge spends his time bidding on jobs, erecting scaffoldings and laying bricks or cinder blocks. "I like working with blocks the best," he says. "A block just sits more comfortably in my hand."
He seemed at peace with post retirement life.
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."
It reminds me of the tragic retirement of former Steelersâ€™ great Mike Webster.