In reaction to the excessive celebration penalty that would ultimately spell the Cowboys' doom, HyperVocal's Ross Mandel wrote a great piece on the NFL's increasingly tight leash.
Colombo wasn’t taunting anyone and his actions were hardly excessive. He and Witten were not involved in prolonged or choreographed celebration, nor was their reaction premeditated. It was a spontaneous celebration during which a player fell to the ground. There was no malice intended. It didn’t embarrass anyone other than Colombo.
I get that Terrell Owens’ Sharpie usage might be annoying and self-serving. But you know what? The League managed to survive...And if people didn’t like it, isn’t the League savvy enough to recognize that every sport…every game needs a villain?
'[L]et’s worry about a guy being creative because a couple of fans might get the wrong idea about our precious League.' Guess what? We already have the right idea about your sacred League. We see it every day on television: assaults, harassments, DUIs, drug usage…and still we come back to the game. You’re telling me that a player dancing in the end zone is going to alienate us to the point of abandonment…that touchdown celebrations are the problem? Colombo’s penalty received the same punishment as a dirty hit. There’s a problem with that.
I can also attest that the moment when one of the hurly-burlys' personality comes out to play is the moment my girlfriend (and others who couldn't tell a 4-3 from a hole in the ground) actually connect with the action onscreen. The wonderful people in our lives who spend Sunday doing their nails by our sides can finally make sense of what's going on: 'that guy's happy, she's happy for him. While it may not be the most important thing to the NFL's core audience, it is an aspect of your product that connects with people outside that core. Is that really something to be afraid of?