By BERNIE WILSON, Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Coach Norv Turner said nobody from the San Diego Chargers used Stickum in a Monday night loss to the Denver Broncos on Oct. 15 or in any other game.
He also said it's a towel, not a substance, being investigated by the NFL.
Turner was reacting Monday to an investigation by the NFL into whether the Chargers used a banned sticky substance during a 35-24 loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in which San Diego blew a 24-0 halftime lead.
"Nobody in this organization has used Stickum in any game," the beleaguered coach said Monday. "The question involved 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 that the players wear and their arms. The league is looking into the towel. That's about where it's at."
He said the towel was brought to the NFL's attention by the Broncos, and that a few years ago, a member of an officiating crew told the team's equipment staff that the towel would be good to dry his golf clubs in rainy weather.
Fox Sports reported Sunday that an equipment manager came onto the field with an illegal substance on hand towels during the Monday night game. Line judge Jeff Bergman saw the towels and tried to confiscate the substance. When the equipment manager wouldn't give it up, the officials made him empty his pockets and found a skin-colored or clear type of tape, Fox Sports reported.
"There was nothing on the towel," Turner said.
Turner declined to reveal the brand name of the towel. Members of the team's equipment staff said only the coach could talk about it.
"I'm not going to get into it. I don't need to help anybody in marketing their product," said Turner, who's come under fire from fans after the Bolts blew double-digit, second-half leads in losses to the New Orleans Saints and then the Broncos. "I understand a lot of golfers use it to dry their grips in inclement weather. It's pretty widely used throughout the league."
Turner said that if the NFL decides that teams shouldn't use the towel, "there's going to be a lot of teams having to change what they use and what they do. ... It's the first time, I believe, it's been brought to their attention. It was brought to their attention, obviously, by Denver, and a lot of the attention that's come out of it the last three-four days came from the same sources.
"It's been asked about in the past," Turner said. "In fact, one of the officials in the past said he thought it would be a good thing for him to use — this was a couple years ago, according to our equipment guys — it would be a good thing for him to use to dry his clubs when he's playing golf."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he couldn't comment other than to say the matter is under review.
If the Chargers are found to have been using an illegal substance, they could be fined or lose a draft pick.
In 1981, the NFL banned the product Stickum and other sticky substances that players put on their hands to improve their grip on the ball. Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes was renowned for using the substance before it was banned.
Safety Eric Weddle, an All-Pro last year, said he doesn't wear gloves and didn't know what was going on.
But when asked about the towels, Weddle said: "It's not like a big secret or anything. All the teams use them, whatever they are. It'll come out."
Weddle said any thoughts that the Chargers cheated were nonsense since they lost.
In Denver, Broncos coach John Fox was asked about the sticky situation.
"You know, I'm not really all over that," he said. "I'm sure the league has their ways of dealing with it and they'll let us know the outcome."
The Chargers (3-3), tied with Denver for the AFC West lead, are coming off their bye weekend and play at Cleveland on Sunday.
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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.
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