Hype? Hoopla? Not here. Not us. We cover the waterfront. We don't do fluff, pal. We're in the news business.

Me, I'm on The Fridge beat.

(It's a messy job -- a lot of times you come home with pizza or hot fudge stains on your clothes -- but somebody's got to do it.)

You want Fridge news? I have some. Get a pen. Take notes:

Sorry, you movie fans will have to wait. The Fridge will not be making his film debut as Cyndi Lauper's bodyguard in the as-yet-untitled epic starring Cyndi as a wrestler scratching, biting, clawing and hair-dyeing her way to the top. "I read the script and said, no," The Fridge disclosed yesterday as he answered urgent questions from the 14,650 reporters gathered around him like leaves on a shade tree.

(Taking a short break here to fill you in on all the details, The Fridge did a slow revolve as he spoke, making sure all could hear him -- a sort of theater in the round as it were. Now back to the movie.)

Why, Fridge? Wasn't the role big enough? Did they want you in the nude instead of in the food? Tell the truth, would you rather direct?

"Really, I just didn't want to go out there to Hollywood and spend seven days on a movie. I'd rather spend it fishing." (The Fridge is no fool. In fishing, you can eat what you catch. In Hollywood, you have to watch you don't catch anything.)

Oooooh, that was hot news, wasn't it? You think you can stand some more?

The famed gap-toothed smile? When The Fridge was just a boy, a cousin shot his right front tooth out with a pellet gun at a distance of some 50 yards. A minor eating disability The Fridge worked hard to overcome.

Moving on to the endorsement beat, The Fridge happily said he had been approached by Purina Cat Chow to do a commercial. He wasn't sure exactly what his part would be. He certainly didn't rule out eating the product but he was ready to do the heavy lifting, too, suggesting, "I'll probably pet a cat." As you have no doubt seen, The Fridge has been quite active in commercials lately, leading his teammate, Dan Hampton, to remark, "When they make the movie of his life, they'll call it, The Endorser." Let's face it, The Fridge is selling so many products, he's starting to receive mail addressed to John Houseman.

More news? Okay, one more item. I saved it for last because it's sort of depressing.

America's best known and most popular football player, William (The Refrigerator) Perry, who has been known to use both sides of his mouth while eating, seems a mere shadow of his former self. Sad but true, sports fans. Understand now, we're not talking about the Jordache look; whole herds of cattle still live in fear that The Fridge might want a midnight snack. But no longer do you need a wide-angle lens to photograph him. No longer do you need panic at what might happen if you were trapped in an elevator with him and he exhaled. No longer does his belly look like a mudslide. The Fridge is defrosting.

He was 367 in his senior year at Clemson, so large he had to be weighed on a butcher's scale. He was 335 when he showed up at the Bears' camp, prompting Buddy Ryan, who still calls him "Fatso," to say of him, "He's a wasted draft pick and a waste of money." But because so much of The Fridge's salary was tied up in weight clauses, he went, shall we say, lean turkey. "At Clemson, all I had to do was make big plays. I did that at 360. Here, they told me to lose weight or I wouldn't get paid. I had to push away from the table." The Fridge's Diet Secret? "I mainly gave up bread," he revealed. But how much? Enough to feed Phoenix?

By his own estimate, The Fridge is down to between 304 and 308 pounds, not much, if any more, than Washington's Joe Jacoby, or 10 to 20 other NFL players not yet named for appliances. What's more, next year The Fridge intends to play at 290 or 295. A mini-Fridge. An icebox.

"I'll be a better player that way," he promised. "I'll be the player I'm supposed to be."

The Fridge believes that shrinking down to mere mortal size will not adversely affect his widespread popularity. (David Letterman, as we know, discovered that people in Japan actually worshipped The Fridge.) "They'll still love me, because of my personality," he said, smiling, patient and cheerful as ever. What proof did he have of this? Self-actualization, of course. "I loved myself at 360, and I love myself now at 304 or 308," The Fridge explained. Thank you, Ralph Kramden.

Lean cuisine, I think, is a bad career move for The Fridge, and before he makes the total commitment, I have two words of advice for him: more gravy.

A joyous combination of fortunate accidents helped catapult The Fridge to stardom: his size, his nickname, what Ryan said about him, Mike Ditka daring to put him at running back on a Monday night game and the Bears' season-long dominance of the NFL. Without any of those critical components, The Fridge would be just another Fat Guy Lineman. And of all those factors, the only one The Fridge contributed all by himself was a stomach that looked as if he'd swallowed Shamu.

The Fridge should be gaining pounds, not shedding them. He has a sacred trust and responsibility to his public to dance with the grill that brought him.