This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December still holds such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 14: The Only Team Fined for Dubious Towel Usage
While the Pittsburgh Steelers might have their famous terrible towels, the Chargers are also deep in NFL lore for their own moisture-wicking accoutrements. These, however, don’t sell as well at the local airports. Let’s turn back the clock a bit to 2012, a year of great cinematic calamity and, of course, unusual NFL action.
October 12, 2012
The San Diego Chargers were welcoming the Denver Broncos to Qualcomm Stadium. As things would have it, the first half of the game was pretty much one of the greatest halves of the 2012 season for the Bolts. By half time, the Chargers were up 24-0. Philip Rivers had 2TDs and 1 interception, and Peyton Manning was being bullied.
The Chargers built their first-half lead after two special teams fumble recoveries and an 80-yard touchdown return by Quentin Jammer off a Peyton Manning interception. It happened to be the first score of Jammer’s career. Rivers also threw two touchdowns to Antonio Gates in the first half, giving the game a look of a complete thrashing.
Then Philip Rivers proceeded to forget how to play football in the second half, and the Chargers lost 35–24. The loss tied San Diego with Denver for the AFC West lead with a 3–3 record. Rivers had a career-high six turnovers. One of his interceptions and one of his fumbles were returned by the Broncos for touchdowns. He had four interceptions, including three in the fourth quarter. It was ugly, and the Chargers were watching it all unfold in real time. Apparently, toward the end of the game, the Chargers were thinking outside the box to try and improve their throwing game.
A Chargers equipment member was caught by the line judge hiding and handing out an “illegal stickum-type substance” during the game to players. The Chargers refused to hand over the towels at that time, but they were later confiscated by the league after the game. Chargers head coach Norv Turner denied that the team cheated, and stated that the object was a towel with a substance that dries footballs.
That was untrue, well, except for the towel part. The product was later identified as Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer.
After three weeks of investigation, the NFL released a statement on the matter:
“Following a review ... the NFL has determined that the club did not violate a competitive rule by use of the towels.”
”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 short, the league agreed that the Chargers did not break the anti-Stickum rule (that substance has been banned since 1998), as they used a distinctly different product (for the same competitive advantage). The league also said that, after consulting with its competition committee, it had advised all clubs that the use of towels or other products containing any type of adhesive substance was prohibited on game days until further notice
So, there you have it. The Chargers are the only team in recent history to be directly fined for the direct use of towels on a game day. I think that the evidence of glue, sweat, crime, and punishment on this particular towel are enough to confirm that the Chargers have had ownership of a towel demonstrably more terrible than anything seen in Pittsburgh (excepting their current free fall in the standings, of course).
-Jason “It’s only cheating if you go name brand” Michaels