It sounds enticing, this NFL Red Zone channel that I can click onto my flat screen at 1 p.m. Eastern any and every football Sunday.
The Red Zone, you see, does all league-related surfing for you. With a cool voice riding in the back to moderate, The Zone promises to take you to all the potential scoring plays of the games being played at any one time. It swears that you will see every touchdown. And field goal, too.
I gave it a whirl yesterday. I wanted to watch my Jets against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith had turned in an interception-less game in victory last week in victory. The Jets are looking better than expected so far this season. I was wearing my green, long-sleeved Jets shirt.
But geography was against me. The Buffalo Bills were hosting the Cincinnati Bengals at the same hour. In Syracuse, NFL rules dictate that the Bills games trump concurrent Jets games on the CBS affiliate. If the Bills are away, they’re on. If the Bills are home against an AFC opponent and all tickets have been purchased, they’re on. If the Bills are home against an NFC opponent and the game is sold out, they’re on the FOX affiliate. So that first day I see the overall NFL season schedule, I go down the list for the Jets and Bills and hope for different days (Thursday or Monday night games) or different time slots (4 p.m. or 8 p.m.)
In short: Sometimes I don’t get my Jets.
I decided it was time to give the NFL Red Zone a shot. At least I’d see the important plays from the Jets-Steelers.
I figured I was ready. I’d even test-drove the theory every now and then on Saturday afternoons, flipping to ESPN’s similar channel for a broader view of action from college football. The ESPN umbrella channel settles in for whole offensive drives at a time, giving you a feel of what the atmosphere is like in, say, Austin and Columbus.
I was not ready for the Red Zone.
I pushed the right button on the remote at 1 p.m. The Zone delivered a screen split into many small windows presented horizontally, one for every game just about to kick off. They switched to a single screen for every kick off.
Mr. Moderator was one busy guy as the Zone jumped from stadium to stadium, play by play. Each game carried its own set of announcers. (For some reason, the Packers game started out in Spanish.) They showed a first-down play here. A third-down play there. A pass in one place. A run in another place. It was a huge, spinning wheel that stopped in short bursts. Sometimes, if a play took too long to snap, they took me to a different stadium without even seeing a run or pass or whatever. They often broke into the two-screen, side-by-side mode. A contest tease scrolling at bottom boasted of the quad-screen mode. I was happy that came up far less.
I pictured a director in some studio somewhere, spit flying, downing energy drinks. In fact, I halfway expect to see “The Red Zone Director” pop up on some sports news scroll somewhere on a list of those suspended by the NFL for PED use.
I did not like it. It was too much jumping around. My attention span apparently is too long, not too short. The Jets-Steelers game seemed to come up the least of any game. When it did, the Steelers were gaining yards or thwarting Geno Smith.
My head hurt.
Sometime after all games reached the third quarter — the Zone reminding me again how the clock goes so quickly in some and so slowly in others — I pushed that button and settled in to watch the rest of the Bills-Bengals game in its entirety.
Great game, out there in Orchard Park, where coach Doug Marrone and half his staff took that Thruway drive west from Syracuse between last season and this. The Bills put on quite the last-minute comeback to tie it before the Bengals won with a field goal in OT.
I saw all the plays. My head felt fine.
2 thoughts on “I take the NFL Red Zone for a spin and end up dizzy and dazed”
Classic post! I’m with you; it’s so much better to be old … school.
You are correct. I will call you on our tin-cans-and-string setup sometime. Happy Columbus Day, sir.