'Refrigerator' Perry hospitalized in S. Carolina

Published: 4/21/2009 10:08 PM | Updated: 4/22/2009 8:15 AM

Former Chicago Bears defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry is in serious condition at a South Carolina hospital, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Perry, 46, was hospitalized to deal with complications from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a chronic inflammation disorder of the peripheral nerves, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported.

Aiken Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Melissa Summer declined to give additional details Tuesday.

Perry's nephew, Purnell Perry, told the Sun-Times his uncle was admitted more than a week ago but was expected to recover.

"They were making sure he was in pretty good health before they started treating him," Perry said.

A woman who answered the telephone at Purnell Perry's home said William Perry had improved. "He's doing fine, much better," she said. She declined to give her name.

Perry was a 300-pound plus defensive tackle for the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl team and became famous when then coach Mike Ditka used him as a short-yardage fullback on goal-line plays. Perry crashed into the end zone for a TD in the Bears' victory over New England in the 1986 Super Bowl.

Perry's agent relayed to the Bears that the former defensive tackle would be OK. The team said Tuesday night it would continue to monitor the situation.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare condition that occurs when immune system cells mistakenly attack nerve cells that support the muscles. Symptoms include weakness or tingling in the legs, which may spread to the arms and upper body.

In the most severe cases, GBS can lead to paralysis and death.