Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Defensive backs used stickum after 1980, too


We asked, and you’ve begun to deliver.

Responding to an invitation to pass along any admissions or denials from receivers of stickum use after it became illegal in 1981, a reader passed along a line to an August 2007 item from in which a former defensive back (and as of 2007 NFL head coach) said he used stickum as a player.

Herm Edwards, who was coaching the Chiefs at the time, conceded that, after the NFL scuttled the adhesive substance, he still would put some inside his cleats, just below the ankles. On obvious passing downs, Edwards could reach down and rub some onto his fingers.

“It’s definitely a different league now,” Edwards told Jeffrey Chadiha at the time. “People are concerned about the image more than ever. But I also know there’ll always be some gamesmanship going on. That’s just how this business works.”

So what’s the difference between gamesmanship and cheating? There may not be one.

Either way, gamesmanship and/or cheating exist, in the NFL and presumably all other pro sports. It’s important for the league to keep that broader context in mind if it’s determined that the Patriots tampered with air pressure in footballs -- and whenever the NFL next catches someone in the act of cheating.