Ahead of the Curve
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There's a Seinfeld episode where an unemployed Mr. Lippmann is having lunch with Elaine and notices she eats only the muffin top and tosses the stump.  The top, she explains, is the best part of the muffin where it "breaks free and does its own thing."

Lippmann takes her idea for his new eatery but soon finds sales lagging.  The problem: he's only cooking the muffin tops.  You need the stump, says Elaine, to give it flavor.

NFL Network pitches their new channel with this slogan: "Watch every touchdown from every game."  Sounds tasty but when you take a bite there's something missing.

What's missing is the build-up to the score: the stump.  It's the grinding battle for turf that can move the chains and makes the TD so gratifying.  But absent the "matriculation down the field" (Hank Stram) it's just another muffin-top touchdown with little flavor.

RedZone won't show those routine plays that create the anticipation: the block that frees the RB for a gain; the tackle that stalls a drive or a 5-yard completion that keeps it alive.

Maybe the best play in the Viking / 49er game of week three was Favre's downfield block on star linebacker Patrick Willis.  Will that kind of grit show-up on RedZone?

Something as slight as a fake hand-off (Tony Romo's forte) can coax an entire defense to lean the wrong way and free a runner to daylight.  RedZone techs wouldn't even notice.

RedZone's AAD-format was created by the same marketing people who believe baseball is nothing more than a home run derby.  They neither enjoy nor understand sport.

If I want a highlight show I've already got plenty to choose from: Total Access (terrific); ESPN News; NFL Live (depends on the jocks); Monday Quarterback (always superb).

NFL Network knows pro football but the RedZone concept is not their best idea.  I guess their marketing people never heard that old driving adage: getting there is half the fun.

Steven Keys

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