Sunday afternoons have changed forever. At least that is what the NFL Redzone says on their website but is it a good change or a bad one? For those that aren’t familiar with the NFL Redzone, it is a new channel offered by the NFL Network. It is called the Redzone because it refers to when a team is inside the 20 yard line (this area is called the red zone) and is close to scoring. The NFL Redzone will switch from game to game throughout the day and only show games where the team with the ball is inside the red zone. The theory is that football fans can watch this one channel all day long, watch all the scoring in each game and never have to flip through channels.
The NFL Redzone is a good idea in theory but ultimately it fails. I hate to break the news to people raving about the NFL Redzone but here is the harsh honest truth. If you like the NFL Redzone you’re not a football fan, you’re a fantasy football fan.
Those are the only people that want to instantly see every score without being bothered with the rest of the football game. Only a fantasy football fan wants to even switch from game to game. Fans of actual football will want to pick a game and watch it until the end or at least until the game is uninteresting.
Only watching a game when a team is in the red zone is an inadequate experience of an abridged game. Nothing that happens before the 20 yard line is important? Most great catches don’t occur in the red zone, they occur when there is more space. Forty yard runs or passes are more exciting than 10 yard plays. Most interceptions and sacks don’t occur in the end zone because a quarterback (at least a good one) would rather throw the ball away. Games that are only viewed inside the red zone don’t have 50 yard field goals, 60 yard part returns or 80 yard kick returns.
Whatever happened to “defense wins championships”? I guess the quote should be “defense wins championships but we’d rather watch the offensive players that don’t win jack”. Watching a football only to see the scoring plays is like only watching home runs in baseball. The pitchers aren’t that important. Who cares about sacrifice bunts? Base stealers are boring. Diving catch? So what, how many home runs did he hit?
ESPN has to hate the NFL Redzone. The current Sportscenter is a bastardized version of what used to be must watch television every morning. The biggest problem with Sportscenter is they go through highlights of a game so quickly that it doesn’t really tell the story of the game. The only sport that Sportscenter does correctly is the NFL. Plenty of highlights will be shown. Important fourth downs, great defensive plays, good coaching moves, heck the other day Sportscenter highlighted Trent Williams for blocking! ESPN actually shows the right amount of coverage for once and what is everybody’s response? Just show us the touchdowns! I want to know if Larry Fitzgerald scored the 15 points I needed to win!
The game that I watched (from beginning to end) on Sunday was the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons. The last few minutes of the game was one of the five best finishes of week 1. The Steelers had to punt with 2 minutes left. Matt Ryan thought he could drive down the field and at least set the Falcons up for the winning field goal in a 9 – 9 tie. Then on the first pass intended for Roddy White, an outstretched Troy Polamalu came out of nowhere, lunged in front of White and dragged his tippy toes on the ground before falling out of bounds. The Steelers ran a few rushes but got nowhere. They settled for a 40 yard field goal but Jeff Reed missed.
The Falcons got the ball first in overtime and most people assume the team with the ball first will win because it is sudden death. The Steelers didn’t know that because they stopped the Falcons and on the first play of their possession Rashard Mendenhall broke a 50 yard touchdown for the win. How many of these plays occurred in the red zone? Zero.
Anybody that watched NFL Redzone saw just two field goals in the entire Steelers-Falcons game. How is that acceptable viewing? How does anybody come away knowing what actually happened in any game? Watching NFL Redzone would be like going to the library (yeah those buildings with all the books do still exist), checking out Pride and Prejudice, taking it home, reading one random chapter and then taking the book back to the library. But hey, it’s cool, I only wanted to know if Charles Bingley scored with Jane because he’s on my fantasy literature team.