Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.
First-rounder gets Ryan-ordered sack, high praise for Perry
Originally published Aug. 11, 1985
ST. LOUIS – William “The Refrigerator” Perry got a high-five from Buddy Ryan Friday night and high marks from St. Louis left guard Doug Dawson.
“William Perry’s going to be a great football player,” said Dawson, moments after the Cardinals’ 10-3 victory over the Bears at muggy Busch Stadium in the pre-season opener for both teams.
The high-five from defensive coordinator Ryan came after Perry chased down and sacked Cardinal quarterback Kyle Mackey early in the fourth period. Earlier in the week Ryan had roundly criticized the 320-pound Perry and the Bear front office for making him their first-round pick in last April’s draft. “He called me fat boy,” said Perry. “And a whole lot of other things, too.”
During the third period Ryan told Perry he wouldn’t be allowed on the team plane back to the Bears’ Platteville, Wis., training site if he didn’t produce a quarterback sack.
“So I did,” said Perry. “He was just joking around.”
And that’s when Ryan responded uncharacteristically with the high-five. Perry isn’t the first high draft choice Ryan has “dogged,” to use the players’ word for it.
Perhaps even Ryan suspects what Bear head coach Mike Ditka has said all along: “Perry’s gonna be a good football player for us.”
Perry played the first 50 minutes of this game that started with the temperature hovering near 90 degrees. “Just to make it through that is a feat in itself,” said Bear guard Kurt Becker.
“He’s still young and he’s got quite a lot to learn,” said the 267-pound Dawson. “But I didn’t knock him off the ball any.”
“The guy Perry is out there trying,” said Ditka. “And that’s what I like to see.”
Dawson saw more of Perry than he cared to. “When you come off the ball on a drive block, you realize how big he is and that you can’t move him,” he said.
Perry’s weakness? “He’s mostly a power rusher,” said Dawson. “He tries to knock you into the quarterback. That might not get him too many sacks.”
But Ditka made it clear Perry will get lots of playing time during the pre-season, particularly with regular right tackle Dan Hampton still nursing athroscopically repaired knees. “I think William’s got something to prove to everybody,” said Ditka. “Probably myself included.”
But he could give lessons on how to get people’s attention. There were any number of interesting aspects of the Bear loss to explore.
For instance, all-time NFL leading running back Walter Payton didn’t play because, according to Ditka, he has a superstition against participating in the first pre-season game.
In the placekicking derby, rookie Kevin Butler boomed his first kickoff into the end zone. It wasn’t returned. He added a 21-yard field goal to account for the Bears’ only points. Veteran Bob Thomas was wide left on a 46-yarder, his lone three-point attempt.
Right outside linebacker Wilber Marshall pulled a leg muscle in the first half, didn’t return and later drew criticism from Ditka for not being tougher. Two other Bear linebackers, Ron Rivera and Cliff Thrift, looked embarrassingly slow chasing Cardinal running back Quentin Walker on his game-winning 48-yard touchdown burst over right tackle with four minutes to play.
And, of course, defensive starters Al Harris, Mike Singletary and Todd Bell didn’t even suit up. All are holding out for improved contracts. “I assume they’re not going to play for the Bears this year,” said Ditka flatly.
“I think they’ll be back and I hope they’ll be back,” said defensive end Mike Hartenstine. “But you’ve got to expect the worst.”
To be sure, the only new wrinkles in the Bears game plan were the pleats in Ditka’s au courant khaki pants. So it was a snap for Perry to steal the show even though he appeared lost on several occasions in the first half. Part of that was because he is a rookie. Part was because of the conditioning loss Perry suffered during the weeks before he finally agreed to contract terms with the Bears.
“I played fine,” insisted Perry, smiling unabashedly despite the loss of one front tooth from a boyhood shooting accident.
“It was great. I had fun,” he said.
That was more than most of the rest of the Bears could say.