NFL Red Zone: The Greatest Channel Ever

When I was a kid, we had a standard, basic, 19 inch television that was placed low in a cabinet, almost touching the ground in our family room. I’m guessing around the age of 12-13, we upgraded to a bigger tube, placed eye length in a new wall unit. Let’s say this TV was about 34 inches. I remember thinking how much better and bigger that was to the original TV I had been watching for the first decade plus of my life.

Just after I got married, I received a 50-inch big screen TV box (this was pre-HD) as a wedding present from my aunts and uncles and I thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me in terms of TV watching. Little did I know that within three years, that TV would become obsolete. Once the High Definition flat screens took over, it was a whole new world for us all. Today, the thought of watching sports in standard definition makes my skin crawl.

In my home, sports dominated our entertainment time. My father was a man who loved baseball, football, and basketball. He grew up going to Browns games with his father at the old stadium, a Hungarian immigrant who played for his country’s National Soccer Team as a 17-year old before coming over to the United States via Ellis Island, not speaking a word of English. This self-made man found a love for American Football and purchased Browns season tickets in 1946. They have remained in my family since. My father found a love for baseball as a kid, played it in high school, in college, and in the Army before eventually becoming a life-long salesman. He took my brother and me to countless Browns, Indians, and Cavs games as kids and really instilled his love of sports into us. I’m essentially doing the same thing with my son right now.

For someone like my son, who is four and a half, attending sporting events has whet his appetite for the games, but watching with me on TV is where he is really learning and getting into them. He can’t go to every game. But he can certainly watch the majority of them on television.

Yesterday, as we all know, was the Browns bye week. So after the family enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at the Hiram House Pumpkin Festival, my son and I settled in for an afternoon of High Definition NFL action. I made the switch over from Time Warner Cable to AT&T U-Verse about four months ago. One of the options U-Verse has that Time Warner doesn’t is the NFL Red Zone Channel. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Red Zone channel (offered in 2 different versions – Directv and various digital cable providers, but not Time Warner) is on Sundays from the opening kickoff to the final play of the last late game. There is a host, the great Scott Hanson or Directv’s Andrew Siciliano, that whips you around from game to game, taking you to where the best action is. If a team is close to scoring, they take you right there. Meanwhile, they show every single touchdown and big play, no matter if they are on another game or not. It’s essentially the ultimate remote control for someone who doesn’t want to do the flipping themselves. Did I mention there are no commercials?

Simply put, it’s the greatest channel ever invented.

This is my first season with the Red Zone channel available and I am hooked. I don’t know how I can watch Sunday Football without it anymore. When the Browns are playing, I’m obviously going to watch them, but at commercials, or in the case of last week’s second half debacle, I am right over there with my man Scott Hanson, who never takes a break. For fantasy football geeks like me, or for gamblers, this is NFL heaven.

And as I’ve said many times, the league’s mediocre product on the field is completely masked by fantasy football and gambling. That is what makes the NFL work these days, though you will never hear that coming out of the league office.

If you find me a person who doesn’t like the Red Zone channel it will be a first. It’s truly unbelievable. Yet, this is the quandary I’m in with my son. Obviously, we are and will always be Browns first, but how can I get him to truly appreciate the nuances of the game if all he sees is a constant flow of flipping from game to game with teams driving to score? It boils down to being selfish. The Red Zone channel is for me. The Browns games are for us.

So next Sunday, during the early games, we will watch the Red Zone channel, then devote the late game to the Browns, who play in Oakland at 4:05. This will be the Raiders first home game at the Black Hole since the death of their owner Al Davis.