By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I was invited to a sausage fest (guys only) football party this past Sunday where I was under the impression that I was going to be watching the Philadelphia Eagles play the Atlanta Falcons. In my house, we are big Eagles fans because of the quarterback Donovan McNabb and his Syracuse roots. The host was generous and but for the goyisha food, a good time was had by all.
At this party I came across a new feature being offered by some cable service providers and produced by the NFL. It is called NFL Red Zone. The underlying concept is that the station switches from any one of the ten games being played and shows only those plays and events that occur in what is called the “red zone”; that area between the 30 yard line and the end zone. As soon as the play in that area is over, the station switches to another game where there, the play is in the red zone. With ten games being played at once on a Sunday afternoon, there was an immense amount of moving from one game to another to just see the highlights of scoring drives or interceptions and then quickly move off to another game. There are no commercials on this channel. The channel also does not show any one game so you really cannot follow what is happening anywhere in the NFL other than in the box scores being shown in a strip at the bottom. On that strip, you have to focus hard to see scores from around the league.
Let me be the first to say that this ‘Red Zone’ concept is about the most annoying idea ever conceived for watching a game. Any football game is like a good novel; it is a slowly unfolding story that builds as you move through it and ultimately reaches a climax. It doesn’t matter if it is a blowout or a game that comes down to the last play. There are passes and runs, trick plays and fumbles, and a whole lot of interesting and skilled play that goes on elsewhere on the field beyond the red zones. The ability to follow a game is like seeing a story unfold and not knowing the end until you get there. I would define the Red Zone as being the Cliff Notes version of football and you miss all the in between play.
The Red Zone flashes between games about every thirty seconds. You see a pass or a run, then the program switches to another game for a couple of plays. Then, the channel switches to yet another game and another and another as various games move into the red zone area of the field. You cannot focus on any one game and could get stuck watching a touchdown being scored in a game between two 4-6 record teams. The games switch so fast and often that unless your epilepsy is under control, the flash from game to game can cause seizures and other brain dysfunctions. As for me, I was going out of my mind trying to follow one or two games while being subjected to red zone play for 10 games.
As it turned out, the Eagles Atlanta game was a blowout so very little of it made the highlights on the Red Zone. But a major battle was brewing with the undefeated Saints and Washington Redskins. For most of the game, Washington was out front and it appeared that the 11-0 Saints were about to suffer their first defeat. But, given the operation of the Red Zone, they never spent any real time focused on that game so the drama that was unfolded could only be caught in momentary snippets. Imagine for example watching a basketball game where all you saw was the shot on the basket and as soon as it went in or missed, the channel changed to another game and another shot on basket and kept doing this for every college game being played on a Saturday. Anyway, the Saints were marching back and had tied the game near the end. Whom among us who enjoys football would not want to see the last couple minutes of that game to see what was going to happen. In the end, the Saints tied the game in regulation and ultimately won in overtime. You would think they would show that kind of high drama. But alas …
I did not want to be rude to my host and so I along with the rest of the gathered tried to focus on what was transpiring around the league. My brain was starting to turn to mush and I was getting more irritated by the moment. It felt like I was about to slip into seizure land or a coma. It got to where all I wanted was to be vaporized. Even gay porn would have held my attention better.
Eventually I was able to escape the Red Zone and headed home. When I arrived, my Mrs. was watching the New York Giants game and only the New York Giants game. Although my brain was fried and scrambled, I went right up to my television and gave it a big hug because I knew it would stay on one channel with one game. Unfortunately, I was so disheveled that I was unable to watch another minute of football and walked away from the game. Having all the red zone plays from 10 different games jammed down my throat for several hours had me on football overload and I could not tolerate another moment of pigskin delight.
That feeling of being all discombobulated and out of whack stayed with me all night. I couldn’t focus on anything on television and opted instead for a book. Even this morning when I woke up, my brain was still rattling about inside my head and I felt shell shocked from the experience. The Red Zone is just not for me and I will never understand its’ attraction.