William (The Refrigerator) Perry, he of the rotund renown, is touching nearly every part of the National Football League these days.
The Chicago Bears have deployed Perry, their rookie 308-pound defensive tackle, in the offensive backfield on short-yardage and goal-line situations. Perry has responded by scoring two touchdowns (one running, one receiving) and throwing key blocks on several other touchdowns.
Now, other teams are using offshoots of the Bears' alignment. New England deployed 285-pound tackle Steve (The House) Moore in the offensive backfield Sunday on a fourth-and-one play against Miami. Quarterback Steve Grogan handed off to fullback Mosi Tatupu, who pitched back to Grogan, who then threw a 28-yard scoring pass. Moore handled the blocking.
Furthermore, it seems that nearly ever ballpark in the league has some reminder of The Fridge. In St. Louis Monday night, a banner hovering near the bench of the troubled Cardinals read, "We need a Big Red Refrigerator."
At the Bears-Packers game in Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Sunday, fans had a chance to "whack the refrigerator for cerebral palsy." For a $1 donation, you could take a mallet to a refrigerator with No. 72 painted on it.
"Some people think it's a joke," Bears receiver Ken Margerum says of the Bears' deploying Perry on offense. "But it's not. It's a serious thing."
Nevertheless, Margerum shook his head about how Perry went in motion from the left slot to the right flat and caught a four-yard scoring pass in the 16-10 victory over the Packers.
"I just don't know," Margerum said, "how he got his fat body through there."
Houston's Tony Zendejas has converted 15 of 20 field goal tries since he was traded from the Redskins; Mark Moseley has made 11 of 14.
It should be noted, too, that Zendejas now has two distinct advantages over Moseley: (1) he kicks on an artificial surface; and (2) he kicks in a dome.
The NFL recently plugged some numbers into its computers and, using the statistics compiled by all NFL kickers in 1984, came up with these accuracy numbers:
On an artificial surface inside a domed stadium, kickers converted 78.9 percent of field goal tries.
On an artificial surface outdoors, kickers converted 70.5 percent of field goal tries.
On a natural surface outdoors, kickers converted 69.6 percent of field goal tries.
Sir Walter: If Chicago running back Walter Payton averages 121 yards per game over the next seven games of this season, he will reach his previously stated career goal of 15,000 yards rushing. Payton gained 192 yards on 28 carries Sunday, the most he's rushed for in eight years . . . The most remarkable thing about Denver's 6-3 record is that the Broncos have managed to hold first place in the AFC West even though quarterback John Elway hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in five weeks.
Thirteen running backs rushed for 100 yards or more last week, breaking the previous NFL one-week record of 10. One, of course, was Atlanta's Gerald Riggs, becoming the second 100-yard rusher against Washington in the Redskins' last 38 games. He, of course, also was the first, in the 1984 Falcons' 27-14 loss . . . The Cleveland Browns lost their 16th straight game at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium on Sunday, 10-9. A Cleveland radio station tried to break the streak by hiring a curse-breaking witch named Elizabeth and sending her to the game. They should have sent a running back instead. The Browns managed only 2.1 yards per rush. Or a crowd silencer. The roaring Steelerites drowned out Cleveland signals until, from shotgun formation on a third down, the ball was snapped when passer Bernie Kosar wasn't looking for it. Fumble, punt and, a couple of plays later, touchdown Steelers.