Any look at the fattest football players in NFL history would not be complete without the mentions of the Bus, the Refrigerator' and the Tank'. In a league where more than 500 players top the scales at over 300 pounds, when just twenty years ago it was a rare sight, football players are now encouraged to get as big as humanly and humanely possible. Who cannot revel at the sight of William Refrigerator' Perry breathlessly running the ball to the end zone, three opposing players being dragged behind him? And who can forget the San Francisco 49'ers 23 year old Frank Harrion, who died in the locker room after a pre-season game which was played in excessive heat, of cardiac arrest, tipping the scales at 315 pounds? The Chicago Bears' Aaron Gibson teeters around the 400 pound barrier, and was active last season.
Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, the franchise running back behemoth of the Pittsburgh Penguins until his retirement in 2007. The Bus was not a sight that you would expect to see in a professional athlete. With his belly bulging out like a dodge ball, The Bus normally ran out of gas after 30 to 40 yards, but he would drag three or four opposing players along with him, usually guaranteeing those short-and-yardage plays. Most teams learned the only way to play successfully against The Bus was to just wear him out, literally hang onto him and let him try and run; The Bus started to run out of gas as he got older, and the last season for Jerome was almost sad to watch, in his 12th year, all with Pittsburgh.
The problem with gaining all the weight that is needed to play football at a professional level in the blocking and running back positions, in a game like this, is that all of that weight has a negative effect on a person's cardiovascular system, and an uncanny number of obese NFL players die before age 50.
William "Refrigerator" Perry of the Chicago Bears holds the honourable record of having had the largest ever super bowl ring made for him, at a whopping size 25! He managed nine seasons for Da Bears, before running out of gas.
Tank Williams weighed in at 300 pounds when he was in the prime of his career, but was released by his long-time employers, The Chicago Bears, due to repetitive criminal charges for guns and violence. Some really big men, with really big wallets, can develop really big egos.
Compare the seasons of hockey players, who are always in top physical shape and for the most part live well into their late 60's and 70's, with the extra large football players' deaths averaging in the under-50 age range are common. Iy seems that the football players have the most to lose.