We’re still trying to figure this one out. The Chargers have been cleared of cheating in connection with a towel that was confiscated last month during that Monday night meltdown against the Broncos. But the Chargers have been fined $20,000 for not turning over the towel promptly enough to the game officials, which suggests that someone was trying to hide whatever it was that the Chargers were doing that ultimately was deemed to be not cheating.
And the towel that the Chargers and other teams were using can’t be used for the rest of the season, at a minimum.
Coach Norv Turner was strident on Wednesday, even though the overall circumstances seem to indicate that the Chargers were doing something they shouldn’t have been doing.
“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.”
Turner was asked about the decision to appeal the fine, but he avoided providing a direct answer. “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.”
It appears that the Chargers were able to persuade the NFL that enough teams were using the towel to make it unfair to punish the Chargers. Still, the fact that no team can use the towel going forward proves that use of the towel violates the rules.
So it’s not that the Chargers were cheating. It’s that everyone who was using the towel was cheating, and the league apparently decided against having to publicly point a finger at multiple NFL franchises for cheating.