San Diego Chargers Coach Norv Turner denied Monday that any members of the team had used a sticky substance and said that the NFL is looking into the Chargers’ use of a towel, not a substance.
“Nobody from the San Diego Chargers used Stickum in the game on Monday night against the Denver Broncos,” Turner said Monday. “Nobody in this organization has used Stickum in any game. The questions that have been asked by the league involve a towel that has been used by this organization for over 10 years.
“It’s used by a lot of teams in this league. The towel is used to dry the balls, dry the gloves the players wear, and arms. The league is looking into the towel, and that’s about where we’re at.”
Turner said that league representatives were at Chargers Park last week to investigate the alleged use of a banned substance, first reported Sunday by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer. In the Oct. 15 game against the Denver Broncos, Glazer reported line judge Jeff Bergman tried to confiscate hand towls from a Chargers equipment manager. He refused and game officials made him empty his pockets.
“There was nothing on the towel,” said Turner, who did not reveal further details. “I’m not going to get into it. I don’t need to help anybody in marketing their product.”
The Chargers knew something was up, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken reported, when a referee started shaking players’ hands in the third quarter. “Then he went about his business,” wide receiver Robert Meachem said. “We didn’t know what he was doing. He made it like he was saying hi.”
The league banned the use of Stickum in 1981 and linebacker Jarret Johnson called it an “old issue.”
“I haven’t heard it unless you’re watching NFL Classic or whatever,” Johnson said. “To my knowledge, nobody uses Stickum. I don’t know why anybody would. There’s a lot of tricks that are legal that many people don’t know about. Our jerseys are Velcroed on. Some of our jerseys are elastic underneath; they don’t really tuck in even though they look like they’re tucked. A lot of guys’ thigh pads are actually flexible pads that are sewn into your pants.
“So, there’s a lot of things that the general public doesn’t know. If that [towel] product is deemed as illegal, I think everybody in the league uses it to my knowledge. Stickum? No. Ever seen ‘Little Giants’? There it is. It’s ridiculous.”
Still, the league takes any effort to gain an edge, whether likely or not, seriously. And every athlete is going to look for a way to gain that edge.