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Scott Hanson, NFL RedZone provide unique experience for fans

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Scott Hanson has fans everywhere these days thanks to the popularity of NFL RedZone. He even did an interview this week with an outlet in England, where the channel is a hit with many British viewers getting their first tastes of pro football.

However, Hanson never will forget an encounter he had with one particular fan at last year's Super Bowl.

"All of the sudden, I get this tap on my chest," Hanson said. "It's Tom Brady. He said, 'Scott, you do a great job on RedZone.' When you have the greatest quarterback in NFL history saying he loves what you do, wow. That was a great moment for me."

Brady and NFL fans of lesser athletic skills are in their ninth season of watching Hanson on RedZone. The seven-hour, commercial-free format in which Hanson navigates fans from game to game on NFL Sundays has been ranked among the best innovations in sports TV history.

It really isn't hyperbole given the vast popularity, if not addiction, many fans have to RedZone. Hanson says he saw the potential right from the first RedZone telecast in 2009.

"I remember saying to myself, 'Think about what you're going to say because this is going to live in a time capsule,'" Hanson said. "I said, 'Ladies and gentleman, you're watching the first moments of a channel that we hope will change the way you watch football forever.'

"It wasn't bombast. I just thought this is going to be gigantic if we do it right."

While the games and the last-second drama remain the draw, Hanson is a big part of the show. He is a hyper-kinetic mass of energy in a suit, channeling an intense passion for all things football on Sundays. No play is too small; no detail is too trivial to Hanson. And it all seems to crescendo during the final hour of the early afternoon games, where dramatic finishes usually occur in rapid-fire fashion.

"Buckle up. You know what's coming," says Hanson to viewers, using a signature phrase.

Hanson likens his role to being a surfer who needs the big wave to be successful. For Hanson, the big wave is a series of terrific games.

"When you're a skillful surfer, and you see that wave, there's no time to hit pause," Hanson said. "You get on that board, position your toes, and you ride it. When it all comes together, it's a beautiful thing for a surfer."

Hanson then adds, "I'm just riding that wave with the audience."

Hanson is positioned in front of a wall of TV monitors that have all the games. He also sees a graphic box with all the scores and game information.

He works with his producers (Brian Nettles for the early games and Ryan Yunt for the late) deciding "what could be the next moment." Dead time, even for a few seconds, is considered death for RedZone.

"We have to constantly be one step ahead to go quickly somewhere else if there's a timeout or a punt," Hanson said. "We make value judgments second by second. What game appears to be Code Red could be passé in five minutes."

Even though he was a Lions fan growing up outside of Detroit, he says he doesn't have a favorite NFL team. He believes it is an advantage being "a blank-slate NFL junkie."

"I bounce my eyes around the monitors," Hanson said. "Where will my gaze stop? Wherever it stops is likely where the rest of the country wants to be in that moment."

The one thing Hanson doesn't do is leave his perch. Even after all these years, the No. 1 question he gets is whether he ever goes to the bathroom during his seven hours on RedZone.

"People always think they're the first ones to ask me that," Hanson said.

For the record, Hanson says it has been four years since he excused himself from the set. He barely drinks any water during the show. He brings a banana, but often can't eat it.

Hanson is powered by the intensity of hosting the show. When the touchdown montage plays at the end of seven hours, he says he is so sapped, he actually has to put his hands on the desk to regain his equilibrium.

"All I want to do is eat, drink and go to sleep," Hanson said.

However, first things first. What does he do upon arriving home?

"I watch the Sunday night game," Hanson said. "What can I say? I love the NFL."

Hanson's passion produced another special encounter with a fan of far less stature than Brady. He remembers once getting a Christmas card from a father and his seven-year-old son. The father explained that after doing all the cards to family to friends, he asked his son if he wanted to send one out to someone else.

"The son said, 'Why don't we send one to Scott Hanson because we spend every Sunday with him,'" Hanson said. "I had tears in my eyes. Every broadcaster hopes they do something that taps into the emotion of their audience. That was memorable."

A Football Life: Jerry Jones is the latest subject of A Football Life (NFL Network, Friday, 9 p.m. ET). There will be no shortage of material to cover the football life of the Dallas Cowboys owner.

"I not only gravitate toward it but I can function better if I don't know if the next card that comes up like the riverboat gambler is going to get me thrown off the boat or I'm going to own the boat," says Jones in the film.

Homecoming: Former Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings returns to Lambeau Field Sunday -- this time as an analyst. He will team with Tim Brando for FOX's coverage of the Packers-Tampa Bay game.

"Calling the game to be an absolute thrill for me," said Jennings. "To have the opportunity to be back at Lambeau Field, a historic place where I have so many fond memories with the fans and my former teammates and coaches, is truly a blessing."

Also, Washington cornerback Josh Norman will be in-studio Sunday for FOX NFL Kickoff at 11 p.m. ET; his team plays Thursday night.

Week 13 announcer lineup

Thursday

NBC, NFL Network, Amazon Prime 8:25 p.m. ET

Washington at Dallas: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth


Sunday

CBS 1:00 p.m. ET

New England at Buffalo: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo

Kansas City at New York Jets: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

San Francisco at Chicago: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

Houston at Tennessee: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Indianapolis at Jacksonville: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

CBS 4 p.m. ET

Cleveland at Los Angeles Chargers: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

FOX 1:00 p.m ET

Tampa Bay at Green Bay: Tim Brando, Greg Jennings

Minnesota at Atlanta: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis

Detroit at Baltimore: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman

Denver at Miami: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth

FOX 4:05 p.m. ET

Carolina at New Orleans; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

New York Giants at Oakland: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston

NBC 8:30 p.m. ET

Philadelphia at Seattle: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth


Monday

ESPN 8:30 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden

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