Chargers cleared in Towelgate

After a three-week investigation, the NFL has found that the San Diego Chargers have not done anything wrong in using a sticky towel, Gorilla Gold. The league began to investigate the Chargers after a referee took the towel from an equipment manager during the team’s Week 6 loss to Denver.

San Diego coach Norv Turner passionately denied any wrongdoing. A representative from the Idaho-based towel company has maintained every NFL team has used their product in the past decade.

The Chargers didn’t come away completely clean in this matter. They will be fined $20,000 because their employee failed to comply with the request of the officials. U-T San Diego reports the Chargers will appeal the fine and they will not discipline the team employee.

The league will not allow any NFL players to use the towel for the rest to the season. The league will review the issue after the season. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said he believes several quarterbacks in the league will be upset they can't use it in poor weather that affects games late in the season. It would be ironic if Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was one of those upset quarterbacks since it was his team that was on the field that night.

A Gorilla Gold spokesman said the company has not been in contact with the NFL during the investigation.

As the investigation went on, it became clear this wasn’t a serious issue and it appeared the Chargers wouldn’t be overly disciplined. Still, I’d expect the Chargers to have some extra motivation against the Broncos next week. San Diego visits Denver on Nov. 18.

UPDATE: The Chargers released this statement about the issue:

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.