Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 72 Days with William "The Fridge" Perry

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears / Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
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Only 72 days remain until the Chicago Bears begin the 2023 season on September 10th against the Green Bay Packers, and to celebrate the start of the season inching closer, today's edition of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff will feature the most legendary player in franchise history to don the number 72, defensive tackle and Super Bowl champion William "The Fridge" Perry.

William Perry's path to the Chicago Bears

Hailing originally from Aiken, South Carolina, William Perry grew up as the third youngest in a family with 12 children, but despite being the little brother to most, there was never anything little about the future Chicago Bear.

Even at birth, Perry was always on the larger size for his age, tipping the scales at 13 lbs as an infant. By the time he was in sixth grade, Perry had already surpassed 200 lbs, and despite being the target for bullies throughout his early education, he was one of the more athletic kids in his grade.

As a teenager, Perry attended Aiken High School, where he was able to channel his size and athleticism into the school's football team, where he excelled as a nose guard on the defensive side of the ball. Clocking in at 6'2" and just under 300 lbs, Perry was far from a simple gap stuffer and was one of the more athletic players on the team.

Perry, who also participated in his school's track program, was the sixth fastest player on his squad, and would often sprint and condition with the running backs and wide receivers. Despite his size, Perry's athleticism was off the chart, and the defensive tackle was allegedly capable of 360-degree slam dunks throughout his time in high school.

With Perry's size and athleticism gaining notoriety in his district and state, the defensive tackle was offered by several top collegiate programs, including UCLA and Ohio State, before eventually committing to Clemson. As a freshman in 1981, Perry didn't earn much playing time, but still earned several iconic nicknames from his teammates and coaching staff, such as "The Refrigerator" and "G.E.".

Despite not playing as a freshman, Perry was a member of the school's 1981 National Championship squad, and would eventually work his way into the starting lineup as early as his junior season. As a junior, Perry was awarded a Consensus All-American nod as the nation's best nose tackle. The following year, Perry was elected as an All-ACC player at his position, capping off an impressive collegiate career.