William "Refrigerator" Perry's Super Bowl jersey hits auction block

Chicago Bears' 300-pound defensive tackle wore jersey during team's only Super Bowl win

Cover Image for William "Refrigerator" Perry's Super Bowl jersey hits auction block
William "Refrigerator" Perry became an iconic character for the Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" team. (Credit: Heritage Auctions)

If a list were made of the most iconic Super Bowl jerseys sought by game-used collectors, William "The Refrigerator" Perry's Chicago Bears jersey from Super Bowl XX would surely be near the top.

Perry's No. 72 jersey is now up for grabs in Heritage's Summer Platinum Night Auction, which takes place Aug. 23-25.

On Jan. 26, 1986, the Bears walloped the New England Patriots 46-10, but the highlight was the 300-pound Perry taking a handoff from Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon and rumbling into the end zone.

Perry scoring a touchdown forever changed sports gambling. In Las Vegas, bookmaker Art Manteris at Caesars Palace opened the odds of Perry scoring at 12/1. It paid out at 4/1, and the sportsbook lost $120,000 on the prop. From then on, bookmakers started offering more and more props to get casual bettors in on the action.

What makes the jersey very unique is the massive time frame in which it was apparently used. Not only was the jersey -- whose size is unknown as a result of a missing tag – worn in Super Bowl XX, but resolution photo-matching has also matched it to a Dec. 27, 1987, game and a Sept. 16, 1990, game.

"These are just definitive photo-matches," Heritage consignment director Chris Nerat said. "It's possible he only wore one or two white jerseys because the size of it was so custom."

As one would expect with a jersey of such wear, there are a ton of repairs made.

"It's mangled," said Nerat, normally a negative word but surely music to the ears of game-used collectors.

The extensive time frame for a modern jersey is likely only rivaled by Joe Montana's 49ers jersey that was worn in Super Bowl wins in 1985 and 1989. That jersey sold for $1.2 million at Goldin Auctions last year.

This Fridge jersey sold at Heritage in 2020 for $63,000. Despite the auction house marketing it, Nerat says he thinks, for whatever reason, it was missed by collectors.

The price Heritage got for Perry's ring, the largest Super Bowl ring ever made, was as big as the man himself: $203,150. The opening is the size of a silver dollar.

If it's glory Bears fans are looking for, they have to go back 38 years to the days of the Fridge and the "Super Bowl Shuffle." They now own the seventh-longest title drought in the league.

The auction that includes the Perry jersey, the Heritage Summer Platinum Night Auction, opens for bidding July 26 and closes from Aug. 23-25.

The star of the auction is the Babe Ruth jersey he was said to have worn during the 1932 World Series "Called Shot." The estimate on the jersey is $30 million, which would set the record for the most paid for a sports collectible.

Darren Rovell is the founder of cllct.com and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectibles market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.