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San Diego Chargers: What Is "Stickum", Anyway?

The San Diego Chargers are being accused of using "Stickum" during their game against the Broncos. What is Stickum?

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Kevork Djansezian

We're just 24 hours removed from the news that the NFL is investigating the San Diego Chargers for using "Stickum" during their loss to the Denver Broncos. Supposedly, the Line Judge spotted the illegal activity during the game and gave the evidence to the Broncos before reporting it to the league offices.

There's no way to pretend that this isn't true. From everything we've heard, the league offices have the actual "Stickum" and one of their trusted officials is the one making the accusation (not the opposing team). The best the Chargers can hope to do is to pin it on an equipment guy, but I can't imagine that will go very far if players were viewed using it. But what would if look like if they did? What the heck is "Stickum"?

Well, according to Wikipedia....

Stickum is a trademark adhesive of Mueller Sports Medicine, of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, United States. It is available in powder, paste and aerosol spray forms. According to the company website, the spray form is "excellent for bat handles and vaulting poles." Many vendors also promote the product for use by weightlifters, and for various other athletic applications.

Stickum, along with other adhesive or "sticky" substances such as glue, rosin (tree sap), or food substances, etc. were deemed illegal for play in the NFL in a 1981 rule named after Lester Hayes who used Stickum to improve his grip.

Okay, so it's a powder, paste or aerosol spray. At least two of those seem pretty easy to hide. It's also perfectly legal in other sports, but not in the NFL, thanks to Lester Hayes. So it's probably easy to obtain.

Well, what do you know? A can of the aerosol spray goes for a measly $6.99. The paste and powder are also available on Amazon for less than $7.

So, Stickum is...

  • Easy to find and purchase
  • Cheap
  • Easy to hide
  • Usable in other applications

Fine. I give in. Every player in the NFL is probably using this stuff and saying that it's for when they're lifting weights. Or they're spraying it on their gloves before stepping out onto the field. However, most teams/players probably aren't stupid enough to try and use it on the sideline during a nationally-televised game. That's the real crime here.

If the use of Stickum is as rampant as I assume it is, and most people know about it, I don't expect a very big penalty here. A fine, maybe a loss of a late-round pick that wasn't going to make the team anyway. That's my guess.