1985 Bears Coverage: Bears feed Perry lightly

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SHARE 1985 Bears Coverage: Bears feed Perry lightly

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.

Bears feed Perry lightly

Herb Gould

Originally published Aug. 6, 1985

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Just hours after he had signed yesterday, William “the Refrigerator” Perry was exposed to the cold realities of training camp life.

First there was a lunch of chilled fruit – and nothing but. Then there was a dinner of chilled fruit – and nothing but.

“They give me my tray when I get over there. I don’t have any choice,” Perry, a defensive tackle who was the Bears’ first-round draft choice, said matter of factly. His teammates, meanwhile, had a choice of hamburgers or tuna casserole at lunch, and shrimp or filet mignon at dinner.

Asked if the no-choice meals were in the four-year, $1.4 million contract he signed yesterday, Perry said,

“No, that’s not in my contract,” with a smile.

Between meals, reality came in the form of six 75-yard sprints at the end of the day’s second practice, each accomplished in 50 seconds, including rest.

Ordinarily, the team breaks into three groups of about 30 players. But yesterday, there were four distinct groups: The three usual squads and Perry, who started with the first group and finished trailing the last group.

Coach Mike Ditka was unconcerned. “In the drills, he wasn’t bad,” Ditka said, and if Perry wasn’t spectacular, he did appear to be doing a solid job of tying up the middle of the line. “We do the 75s for conditioning. If he has to catch somebody from behind for 75 yards, we’ve got a big problem.”

Perry said he reported at 320 pounds, but Ditka said, “No, he came in at about 330. Maybe he was 320 after practice. He’s just big. I wish I could say he had a 32-inch waist and he weighed what he weighed, but that’s not going to be. But he’s moving pretty good.

Work ahead

“Bill’s got a long way to go, but it can come because when he starts slanting and twisting off those blocks, he’s going to cause some headaches.”

Earlier in the day, general manager Jerry Vainisi and agent Jim Steiner worked out contracts for both Perry and sixth-year veteran Steve McMichael.

They and defensive end Richard Dent, who reported over the weekend while a contract extension is being worked out, all practiced for the first time yesterday.

Though Perry and McMichael ostensibly will be competing for the same defensive tackle job, McMichael said, “We don’t compete on this team. We play together to win. That’s why we’re winners. He’s going to help me and Dan Hampton, the other defensive tackle.”

Model contract

General manager Jerry Vainisi said Perry’s contract is likely to serve as a guideline for future 300-pound players.

About 27 percent of Perry’s agreement is tied to conditioning clauses due to concern about his weight. The key clauses include a specified weight, to be determined at the end of training camp, that must be maintained during the season. In the offseason, Perry must live in Chicago so that he can work out under team supervision and meet offseason weight and conditioning standards. Finally, Perry must meet specified standards for strength, endurance and percentage of body fat.

Far from feeling constrained by the clauses, Perry seemed to like the prospect. “I think it’s an advantage,” he said. “I can make $70,000 without even going into training camp,” simply by meeting the offseason conditioning clauses.

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