William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry’s Super Bowl XX jersey – estimate $80,000+ at Heritage Auctions on August 29-30.

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That was the nickname of William Perry of the Chicago Bears. As the nickname suggests, he wasn’t just big – he was immense. But it could be forgotten that he was more than a handy player.

The Bears beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX on January 26, 1986, boasting arguably the greatest defense in history and an offense built around running back Walter Payton, considered by many to be the best ever to play the position. However, the lasting image of the game was when rookie defensive tackle Perry scored a touchdown as the Bears won their only Super Bowl.

The jersey he wore that day, signed by Perry, is offered in the Heritage Summer Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction in Dallas from August 29-30.

Used over a four-year period, it was custom-built for Perry with elasticised side panels to contain his girth and had to be patched up regularly.

The estimate is $80,000+.

Extraordinary athleticism

The first-round draft pick was more than a sturdy wall in the middle of an already-stout defense. According to Heritage: “Perry’s touchdown also represented a change in coaching philosophy.”

Despite his size, he was an extraordinary athlete who could run 100m in 12 seconds. He initially appeared on offense as a blocker who led the way for Payton out of the backfield, but “getting the ball and ploughing into the end zone (he also scored once during the regular season) made coaches acknowledge that some players on the north side of 300lbs are athletic enough to be offensive weapons, in addition to their roles at the line of scrimmage”.