'Refrigerator' called in to defrost the Monarchs

Nick Halling on the former NFL colossus hired to raise interest rates in London
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The Independent Online
The London Monarchs, in search of a big name to help them fill White Hart Lane, have signed a player who fits the bill in every sense. William "Refrigerator" Perry, the former Chicago Bear, will add his considerable bulk to the Monarchs' cause when the World League season kicks off in April.

It is 10 years since Perry helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX, followed by a visit to London, where Chicago played the Dallas Cowboys at a sold- out Wembley Stadium in the inaugural American Bowl. However, he remains one of the best known names in the sport.

"He's the most widely recognised NFL player in the UK," said Gareth Moores, the Monarchs' general manager. "William is a household name who will help recreate the big game atmosphere we enjoyed when we won the World Bowl in 1991."

The player himself will not be generating any excitement in person before arriving for a promotional visit next month. Speaking via a video recording from South Carolina, Perry said: "I had some great times in London in 1986. The fans really warmed to me, now it's my chance to give something back."

Officially, Perry will be paid the standard World League rate of $1,250 (pounds 830) per game, approximately 10 per cent of the NFL minimum.

The question of Perry's weight continues to fascinate. When he joined the Bears in 1985, the 300lb defensive tackle was described as "nothing but a fat kid, a wasted draft choice." He is even bigger now. The Monarchs list him at 350lb although there are unconfirmed stories that he may have ballooned as high as 420lb - some 30 stone.

"The weight problem is greatly exaggerated," said Monarchs' head coach, Bobby Hammond. "In my opinion he can still be a dominant ball player."

Either way, the signing represents good business. The presence of Perry in London - and Gavin Hastings with Scottish Claymores - will stimulate media and fan interest, and should result in a significant improvement in last season's disappointing 10,000 average attendance.