It was a story that started with a single tweet from a FOX Sports reporter and brought light to what could have been more damaging than speculated. The San Diego Chargers were charged in the court of public opinion of cheating in the team's defeat by the Denver Broncos. The controversy surrounded a sticky substance found on a team towel that was believed to have been stickum, but was later announced by the Chargers to be an ordinary towel manufactured by the company Gorilla Towels.
The NFL investigated the incident and issued a statement regarding the matter and ruled that the Chargers were not guilty of breaking any rules.The NFL issued the following statement via it's website.
"Following a review of the San Diego Chargers use of towels that included an adhesive substance in an October 15 game against the Denver Broncos, the NFL has determined that the club did not violate a competitive rule by use of the towels.”
Chargers head coach Norv Turner spoke to the media on Wednesday, but appeared reluctant to comment on the incident dubbed by some as "towelgate". The embattled skipper instead blamed the media for not doing it's job in thoroughly investigating the story before sending it to print.
“There is always going to be a reaction in terms of something like that,” Turner told reporters regarding the fact that the controversy painted the team in a negative light. “I think the way it was reported had something to do with it. Someone didn’t wait until they found out what was actually going on when they reported it. That is what caused the big stir. I think it was pretty accurate in how we depicted it.”
However, the Chargers may have been innocent in this cheating scandal, but they are not out of the doghouse with the NFL just yet. In what could be described as an "obstruction of justice" penalty, the unnamed equipment manager at the heart of the accusation reluctantly conceded to the demands of the referee who demanded he empty his pockets which put more fuel on what ended up becoming a none issue. For that offense, the NFL made another ruling on this incident and handed down a fine stating:
"However, NFL game officials are charged with protecting the integrity and competitive fairness of the games and club staff members, like players and coaches, have a clear obligation to cooperate in this effort and comply with the direction of game officials. As a result of the failure of club staff to follow the directive of a game official to immediately surrender the towels when directed to do so, and to attempt to conceal the towels, the Chargers have been fined $20,000. In order to ensure that products that may have a possible competitive effect are given appropriate review and testing, our office – after consultation with the Competition Committee – has advised all clubs that the use of towels or other products that contain any type of adhesive substance is now prohibited on game days until further notice."
The San Diego Chargers issued the following statement regarding the NFL’s decision that the Chargers did not violate a competitive rule by use of the towels. Although relieved they didn't face harsh punishment, they were steadfast in declaring their innocence in the matter in the following statement:
"The NFL found no competitive violation with the use of the towel and the Chargers were not fined for using the towel. The League has directed all clubs to not use the towel pending further notice. We are appealing the fine for failing to cooperate with a game official’s directive. Our staff member was unaware that the game official was trying to get his attention and he cooperated fully once he became aware."
Turner was also asked about the decision to appeal the fine, but he avoided providing a direct answer to the question. “It is disappointing to me, but I think the most important thing is that there are a lot of people in this league that were using the towel,” Turner said. “Certainly it wasn’t being done to deceive anyone.”
So the point of it all was not if the team was cheating or not but that the Chargers were able to able to persuade the NFL that everyone who was using the towel was cheating. The league apparently decided against having to publicly point a finger at multiple NFL franchises for cheating.
This will end the investigation regarding this incident and the Chargers (4-4) organization can now focus on the rest of the season and taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Tampa.
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