A descent into the madness of 7 HOURS OF COMMERCIAL-FREE FOOTBALL!
Towson, Maryland – NFL RedZone begins in 11 minutes. It is Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season. And with the Ravens on a bye week, there is no one game to distract us from watching all of the football.
I am at my parents’ house, watching on channel 835, the day after celebrating Grandma Selma’s 90th birthday. Grandma Selma’s first football game was likely at Yankee Stadium with Grandpa Joe. And she still calls them the New York Football Giants.
I spend this time making picks in my family’s weekly pick ‘em league, which is in its 19th season. I don’t feel good about any of my picks. Too many games involve two unreliable teams. This is a bad slate of games (only one involves two teams at .500 or better) but the quality of the games doesn’t matter on RedZone.
Begin, 1:00 P.M. ET: “The first time Halloween has fallen on a Sunday since 2010,” Scott Hanson says. “No candy in the studio, we’re handing out touchdowns. Full size.” We begin with an Octobox to show every game at kickoff.
Panthers at Falcons, Dolphins at Bills, 49ers at Bears, Steelers at Browns, Eagles at Lions, Rams at Texans, Titans at Colts, Bengals at Jets.
After 4 minutes: The Colts gain 25 yards on their first play. The Panthers give the ball away on a fumble in Atlanta, and the Rams gain 15. We’re off. The first points are a 46-yard FG by the Falcons’ Younghoe Koo in an empty-looking stadium.
After 7 minutes: TOUCHDOWN! The Rams’ Darrell Henderson is our first of the day.
After 17 minutes: Indy goes for it on 4th down twice on their opening possession and scores a touchdown on a 4th down. This is what we love to see. Field goals don’t win games. NFL coaches, who make decisions like they are constantly looking at the blade of the guillotine above their necks, have finally found some chutzpah.
After 18 minutes: The Fox broadcast of the game we are watching does a game break to show a touchdown we have already seen and the networks need to understand they don’t need to do this anymore. We’re on Twitter, we’re on RedZone, we will find the highlight of the touchdown when we find it. No more game breaks.
After 19 minutes: There’s a referee named “Land Clark.”
After 24 minutes: I am pretty sure I am going to lose all of my picks except for the Rams.
After 25 minutes: Mom has entered the room to watch what she calls “Touchdown Station.”
“I think this is so difficult to watch. And you can quote me on that. Just when I’m getting interested in the game, it’s a different game. But I do like seeing the scores because of my picks.”
After 45 minutes: My brain is entering the mush phase. I am paying attention too closely to the football. It is like staring at hidden image art. The Zen of the RedZone only comes when you don’t try too hard to find it. I am not letting the touchdowns come to me.
After 48 minutes: “Why are you attempting a 54-yard field goal on 4th-and-5?” I say this involuntarily and to nobody but the New York Jets.
After 57 minutes: I picked the Lions. This is the second time I’ve done that this year. I’m so dumb.
Tua Tagovailoa being a lefty is very confusing out of context. Also, we can make a projection on the Eagles at Lions: I’ve seen enough, please keep them off RedZone.
After 64 minutes: We get a close-up of Matt Ryan’s left-hand bleeding. A towel on his belt is drenched in blood. He’s still allowed to play. How? Why? You are allowed to play football with an open wound? He promptly throws an interception. Football is many things, but at the core, it is very dumb. Remember that.
After 67 minutes: Ben Roethlisberger runs like he is experiencing involuntary muscle spasms. He moves in the pocket like a tree swaying in a strong gust of wind. He is a building with feet.
After 72 minutes: Wild sequence, Scott Hanson warns us: Titans QB Ryan Tannehill is intercepted by the Colts’ Tyquan Lewis, who in the process of returning the pick, appears to suffer a catastrophic knee injury and loses the ball, which is recovered by the Titans for a first down. The next play: Touchdown Titans.
Football is cruel, it is amazing, we move on.
After 75 minutes: The Steelers have kicker Chris Boswell throw a pass on a fake field goal. He gets destroyed by a blow from the defender’s head and appears to be concussed. The referees should have thrown a roughing the passer penalty. Mike Tomlin decided to do something dumb and has lost his kicker for the game.
Meanwhile, in East Rutherford, New Jersey… During a big gain by a wide receiver, he fumbles. The Jets!
After 80 minutes: The Dolphins did something incredibly dumb: The tight end waved to the sideline not to call a timeout before going in motion behind the center only for him to get in the way of the shotgun snap. The Bills recovered.
After 84 minutes: Larry Ogunjobi – fantastic name!
After 94 minutes: Scott Hanson welcomes us into the highly-decorated studio. But that appears to be a giant green screen. Why are you lying to us, Scott? I dare you to go pick up that pumpkin behind you. What’s happening? I take my first break to find real-life Halloween candy as they show us people tweeting pictures in costumes.
After 97 minutes: Baby Ruth is the best candy bar named for a great baseball player who was born in Baltimore that for legal reasons the candy people say they named for somebody else, but they are big fat liars. The Lions… What exactly is the purpose of the Lions?
Entering the Witching Hour: Where wins become losses and losses become wins.
After 127 minutes: Stop making the Lions play football. Or don’t televise it. Ship them to London. Just give them a break.
After 129 minutes: “The Jets have three turnovers, lost their starting quarterback, but he might come back, and are still tied,” Kevin Harlan describes the best Jets performance in years.
After 130 minutes: The Texans are down 38-0. Let them join the Lions in London. This isn’t safe or fun and it isn’t even the 4th quarter. Also, the Falcons might be cursed.
After 139 minutes: “Brandon Aiyuk!” I say as he catches a 2-point pass. How did I know that was him? It is concerning that I knew that was him.
After 141 minutes: Sam Darnold just got clobbered on consecutive running plays and looks to be struggling with walking. P.J. Walker replaces him. It is also concerning I know P.J. Walker is their backup.
After 146 minutes: New York Jets kicker Matt Ammendola… hello! Very good-looking man alert! Scott Hanson, why are we not seeing more of him? Excited to see him on the next season of Bachelor in Paradise.
After 148 minutes: “If you’re a 49ers fan you just broke your television,” Dad’s analysis on Justin Fields ridiculous game-tying touchdown run. The PAT goes wide because that’s what the Bears do.
After 159 minutes: T.Y. Hilton takes a big hit to the back, the crowd is hushed, and the announcer tells us he just had neck surgery in August. “And he’s playing!” Dad says before RedZone quickly ushers us to another game so we don’t get too bummed out.
After 166 minutes: Oh my god, Matt Ryan, why?
After 172 minutes: The RedZone has hit an unrelenting pace. Sometimes it seems they jump from game to game just to keep us on our toes.
After 173 minutes: The JETS!!!! The Bengals are absolutely the Bungles. I’m maniacally laughing, and I never want this to end. Mike White forever!
After 181 minutes: Oh, my god what is Carson Wentz doing? Did he just throw a left-handed pick-6 in the end zone in a tie game? Wait. Actually, is giving up a TD in a tie game late a better outcome than conceding a safety and giving the Titans the ball back? Was that a galaxy brain smart play? Good work Carson Wentz!
After 183 minutes: My brother just texted: “Bengals-Jets is basically a competition for who can fuck it up more.” Generally, all of football comes down to the battle of who can limit their own totally incapacitating mistakes. Football is a pants pooping competition and the winner is the team that manages to not poop their pants in the crucial situation. More pants pooping later.
Patriots at Chargers, Jaguars at Seahawks, Washington Football Team at Broncos, Buccaneers at Saints.
After 190 minutes: “Jets have mismanaged the clock and the play-calling.” That sounds about right.
After 195 minutes: The Bengals have out-Jets the Jets.
After 202 minutes: The Titans-Colts banging on against the current of the onslaught of the 4 P.M. games.
After 204 minutes: Does Tom Brady’s Fox cartoon look more like Tom Brady than Tom Brady does?
After 207 minutes: I’m now very hungry. I ate two waffles at like 11:30-ish and right now… PICKED OFF! Carson Wentz just Wentz’d it.
After 209 minutes: Why do offensive coordinators love a rollout to the short side of the field on 4th-and less than-4? That pass is never open. The Washingtons failed to complete it.
After 218 minutes: I stand up for the second time since 1 P.M. and am about to take my first bathroom break of the day. It might be my second. I don’t remember.
After 220 minutes: “Ineligible member downfield” sounds like a euphemism Austin Powers would use for when a person’s Austin & Powers escape from their tighty-whities.
After 222 minutes: Despite my intention, I still haven’t left for the bathroom because I am afraid I might miss a touchdown. Maybe it will just go away.
After 223 minutes: What kind of pajamas do you think Bill Belichick wears? Do they have a collar? “He just wears sweats,” Mom answers. I hope this is a guess and she doesn’t know because she knows…
After 230 minutes: DK Metcalf is an alien. He was then was flagged for hugging the base of the goalposts because the NFL insists on being dumb.
After 233 minutes: There has been a pork shoulder in the oven since 7:45 A.M. and the smell is beginning to overwhelm me.
After 234 minutes: The Washington Football Team’s new kicker is named Chris Blewitt. He had his first career field goal attempt blocked last week in Green Bay. His first kick today in Denver is blocked when it strikes the back of the head of one of his offensive linemen. The WFT organization is a black hole of bad. They should join the teams banished from RedZone: Panthers, Falcons, Texans, and Lions.
After 242 minutes: On Pants Pooping: Rather immaturely I made the observation on Twitter that then Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips’ facial expression on the sideline gave the impression he just realized he pooped his pants. I never directed that comment at him, but I am blocked by @sonofbum. For that, I apologize.
After 247 minutes: Make the Jaguars go away. They just had 12 players on defense on back-to-back plays. “It is not a good look for Urban Meyer’s defense.” Yeah, that’s what isn’t a good look for Urban Meyer’s defense.
After 252 minutes: Jameis Winston is hurt and that doesn’t look good. Trevor Siemian enters the game and is immediately engulfed by Buccaneers. We’re evidently still trying to make Trevor Siemian happen.
After 258 minutes: Chris Blewitt makes a 52-yard field goal, and I said, “Good for him,” like I’m Grandma Selma.
After 275 minutes: The cable box has just asked if I’m still there. Physically? Yes. Mentally? Somewhat. Emotionally? Not sure. I click ‘OK’ to continue watching.
After 277 minutes: A sack from Stephen Weatherly of Denver. He’s wearing rec spec sunglasses and I’m in love. Stephen Weatherly is the coldest looking dude on the planet.
After 289 minutes: The Seahawks just did a double pass, which has to be the sixth one so far today. There is obviously a reason for this sudden explosion of trickeration: Every single NFL offensive coordinator walked into the team meetings this week and said “Well, boys for Halloween we’re gonna do some trick-AND-treating this Sunday!” Remember: The NFL is a gajillion-dollar industry that demands to be taken deathly seriously at all times.
The pork shoulder is my main focus. It has done 9 hours in the oven already. I have nothing to do with the preparation or flourishing of the pork shoulder, but I can think of nothing else.
After 306 minutes: “There’s a giant cow outside.” Halloween is happening. Do the children know it’s RedZone time at all?
After 311 minutes: The Saints are up 23-7 on the Bucs. The combination of Jameis Winston and Trevor Simeon is going to beat Tom Brady?
After 318 minutes: I leave to make a plate of food and miss a touchdown pass by the Washingtonian football franchise. I’ve abandoned my boy!
After 329 minutes: An announcer says “A punt is not a bad thing at all.” The other says the quarterback throwing the ball away “preserved the right to punt.” All of that is wrong.
Punting is bad. It isn’t the worst-case scenario, but saying punting isn’t bad is so small-c conservative. It is a turnover by another name. This kind of thinking is killing fun, risk-taking football. Make them stop, Scott Hanson!
After 332 minutes: Bill Belichick is challenging whether a holding penalty took place in the end zone in an attempt to get a safety. Is he doing this just for me? Is that even allowed? There’s no way he wins this because this is the type of challenge where even if you are right, the referees and their replay minions will not reward you out of spite because you dared question their supreme judgment.
Safeties are incredibly fun. They’re butt-fumble fun. Also, a play in which you score 2 points and get the ball back is such a great reward they worked out. Could never get that kind of rule passed now people would freak out. Belichick lost the challenge because the NFL is No. 1 dumb and No. 2 hates fun.
After 340 minutes: Scott Hanson: “Three of the four [late] games are close and good ones.” This guy is really stretching credulity here. “These games are close, but let’s not confuse any of them with good football,” I say this aloud as if I am now co-hosting RedZone, which I think I could do and do quite well when Scott gets a little loopy.
After 345 minutes: Chris Blewitt with a second blocked kick of the day and third time in two games. This is unfair to him. We’re watching this poor guy fail, and that sucks for everybody. And, also, his name. The puns. They’re awful.
After 348 minutes: “Get this bullshit off the screen,” me to the Jaguars on offense with less than two minutes to play in a 24-0 game. On the next play, they score a touchdown. So, in my face.
After 351 minutes: The Jaguars’ onside kick was just returned for a touchdown. So, in your face Urban Meyer!
My belly is full, and now that the pork shoulder is done, I am not certain I am enjoying anything at all at the moment.
After 366 minutes: In unison the entire room: “Cyril Grayson?!?!”
After 367 minutes: Crispy pork-skin flavored chewing gum. Shark Tank. Great idea.
After 372 minutes: The WFTs have lost it. They look lost.
After 377 minutes: Oh, the Broncos fumbled it, how, the WFTs are alive.
After 379 minutes: The WFTs are done. They threw the ball out of the end zone on 4th down.
After 385 minutes: Tom Brady, pick-6, to lose. Of course.
After 392 minutes: The games have ended. There are no more simultaneous NFL games until next Sunday.
After 395 minutes. What did I learn today? Do I know who is good? Maybe. Do I know who is bad? Without a shadow of a doubt. Everything else is up for interpretation.
Scott Hanson informs us there have been 65 touchdowns: 26 rushing, 34 passing, and 5 scored by the defense or special teams. Darrell Henderson scored the first and P.J. Williams the last.
The touchdown montage rolls so we can see them all again in sequential order. The NFL RedZone on Oct. 31, 2021 ends at 7:52 P.M. ET, roughly 410 minutes after kickoff.
I did not watch football today as everyone sees it normally. I didn’t see many punts or kicks or huddles or the flow of a back-and-forth game in which possession alternates between two sides over the course of two 30-minute halves. There was no time for lulls. There was just action, but the action wasn’t always action. RedZone is more of the constant promise of continuous action. There was the potential for action, but not always action with every play. There was a touchdown every six minutes today.
I saw a week’s worth of games in one afternoon. I saw individual pictures in a collage but only while holding the entire picture too close to my face to see the entire image. I can tell you almost everything that happened, but I can’t tell you which teams played well or who deserved to win or who deserved to lose. Or the unsung heroes which make sports fun. I don’t know the context of anything I saw. There was no story of the day. There are no takeaways I can give you.
I don’t know if I enjoyed everything I consumed, but I satiated my desire to consume it all. All of it except the injuries. The RedZone did its best to keep those hidden from me. Sometimes we would see them happen, but I was never forced to linger over them. There was always another game for Scott Hanson to bring to us. And if there was no game to show there would be replays, or highlights, tweets of costumes, fantasy implications to discuss.
Football gluttony, and I’m full. But I don’t know if I ate a meal. The restaurant was so-so and had exceptionally large portions. That didn’t stop me from cleaning every plate they put in front of me.