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San Diego Chargers fined $20K by NFL in towel case

The NFL announced Wednesday that the San Diego Chargers have been fined $20,000 for attempting to conceal the use of grip-improving "sticky" towels during an Oct. 15 game against the Denver Broncos.

Despite that, the NFL determined the Chargers didn't violate any rules simply by using the towel.

Here's the NFL statement on the matter:

"Following a review of the San Diego Chargers use of towels that included an adhesive substance in an October 15 game against the Denver Broncos, 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 order to ensure that products that may have a possible competitive effect are given appropriate review and testing, our office -- after consultation with the Competition Committee -- has advised all clubs that the use of towels or other products that contain any type of adhesive substance is now prohibited on game days until further notice."

Once again, the cover-up proved worse than the crime. The Chargers released their own statement that they are appealing the fine, saying their staff member was "unaware" the game official was trying to get his or her attention.

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The whole story is a little odd. It technically wasn't against the rules to use the towels, but it's no longer going to be allowed. The Chargers didn't gain an advantage, but they were fined anyway.

It will be telling to see if similar towels ever are allowed to be used again. Our guess is the "sticky" towel is out of the NFL for good.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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