When a huge football player named William Perry began to attract national attention a year or so ago, we wondered about the origin of his nickname: "The Refrigerator." Was it given him because of his resemblance to that bulky household appliance or because of his frequent visits to it?
For a time we inclined to the latter view, especially when Mr. Perry showed up to play for the Chicago Bears (after holding out for quite a big contract) and was derided by their defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan, as a "wasted draft pick" because he was overweight and out of shape. (He weighed about 330 pounds at the time, 12 over his listed weight in the Bears' media guide but 30 under his alleged maximum in college. Weight reports on Mr. Perry tend to fluctuate like currency exchange rates on a volatile day.)
But events of the past week have brought us around to the view that he might have gotten his name for the other reason. In a nationally televised game Monday night, the Bears wheeled out their giant, whose true vocation is supposed to be defensive lineman, and pressed him into service as a running back, as in "Is your refrigerator running?" On a play at the goal line, they got him balanced, put the ball in his vegetable crisper and sort of toppled William Perry onto a group of terrified Green Bay Packers. When everyone was untangled, Mr. Perry had scored a touchdown, and the fans were going wild over their new hero, who is now the toast of Chicago and much of the nation.
Only Mr. Ryan continued to be skeptical. "He's got no stamina. He's not in shape," said the defensive coach. "He's got to change his life style and stop eating." Mr. Perry acknowledges that he'd rather be back on the defensive side, flipping opposing quarterbacks around. Perhaps this indicates a resolve to get down to a more acceptable weight. But until he gets there he'll probably continue to be a celebrity in his new role as an offensive back in short-yardage situations. He is a prominent example of someone who is having his cake and eating it too, and, to all of us who are trying to lose some weight, he is a beacon of hope -- one that shines only when you open the door.