Clemson University

William 'The Fridge' Perry hospitalized for chronic illness

Chicago Bears William Perry
Chicago Bears William Perry

Former Clemson football player William “The Refrigerator” Perry is in serious condition in a South Carolina hospital after suffering from symptoms of a chronic illness, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

The 46-year-old Perry, who resides in his native Aiken, was diagnosed last June with Guillain-Barre’ syndrome and hospitalized for five months. He used a wheelchair during his rehabilitation.

Purnell Perry told the Sun-Times in a phone interview that his uncle entered the hospital more than a week ago because of complications related to the illness and is expected to make a full recovery.

A spokeswoman for Aiken Regional Medical Center told the Sun-Times that Perry was in serious condition but declined to elaborate.

Perry played defensive line at Clemson from 1981-84, earning first-team All-America honors his final two seasons; he was a third-team selection in 1982. For his career, he made 261 tackles and 25 sacks.

Perry played ten seasons in the NFL - eight of them with the Chicago Bears and two with the Philadelphia Eagles. He earned the nickname “The Refrigerator” for his intimidating 6-foot-2, 350-pound frame. He won a Super Bowl ring his rookie year with the 1985 Bears, scoring a touchdown in the game.

According to, Guillain-Barre’ syndrome is an “uncommon inflammatory disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves, typically causing severe weakness and numbness that usually starts in your extremities and quickly worsens.” There is no cure, but treatments are available that can ease the symptoms and duration.