What's the best modern football innovation? Is it Fantasy Football? Is it the Sunday Ticket? No. It's Red Zone.
Around 2009, there was a huge cultural shift in the world of NFL football that changed the way many of us watch the games on Sunday. Sure, fantasy football gave us a reason to care about games and players that don't affect our beloved team each week, but if you wanted to catch all the best action on a given day, you'd be hard-pressed.
Then, the NFL Network gave us the best gift yet.
As most NFL fans in the military already know, it's going to be hard to watch your favorite team. If you didn't buy into DirecTV's Sunday Ticket and you still wanted to watch say, the Cincinnati Bengals, but you were stationed in Charleston, S.C., you probably had to go to a bar every Sunday — or just deal with whatever game they played on the local station.
"If I have to sit around and watch the 2009 Bengals, I'm going to need a lot more of these beers..."
Unless you're a Patriots fan, it's highly unlikely that you're going to be able to watch your favorite team every week. And even going to watch the games at a bar or restaurant gets costly week after week — after all, sitting there for three hours and not ordering anything is a trash move.
Chances are good there's more than one football orphan in any given unit who has to wander around trying to catch a glimpse of his favorite team. For example, Chargers fans, Jaguars fans, and Bills fans don't often get their teams on national airtime— or on Sunday, Monday, or Thursday Night Football.
Unless they play You-Know-Who.
To please everyone week in and week out would be nearly impossible, not to mention all those poor bastards who have to work every Sunday — unlike the rest of us nonners — and don't get to step away from the flightline or CQ desk.
Watching a football game featuring a team you hate or don't care about can be excruciating. No one wants to watch Eli Manning struggle for another three hours every week but there he is, Manningface and all, because New York City has a lot of people in it and Arizona doesn't have nearly as many.
Not that I don't enjoy how much Josh Rosen looks like the Cardinals logo.
And then there's the fantasy football experience. Fantasy football has been around since 1962 but now, since people have computers that aren't the size of entire buildings and they don't have to do the math themselves, it has ballooned into an industry. Some 33 million people play fantasy football and many, many of them don't have a team to root for.
They only care about the big plays and scoring drives. Now, that's all they have to see. Everyone gets to catch the big moments every Sunday in the fall. By clipping between games to only show you the most important plays, Red Zone makes it all possible.
From the bottom of the hearts of all the short-attention-span-having, small-market-team-loving, don't-want-to-buy-five-beers-every-Sunday fans out there: thank you, Red Zone.