As you guys know, Comcast is one of our biggest sponsors and has been promoting their Red Zone Channel to the SB Nation family. They passed along an interview with their host, Scott Hanson, who was actually a Comcast SportsNet anchor in DC before moving over. Enjoy...
Xfinity, working in partnership with several SB Nation NFL bloggers, recently sat down with NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson to provide blog readers with an inside look at what might be the best job in America. Every Sunday afternoon on NFL RedZone, Hanson takes millions of football fans from game to game to see all the key moments and touchdowns happen from around the league, live in HD. Xfinity subscribers can see 6+ hours of nonstop NFL action every Sunday with NFL RedZone for less than $8 per month. With the 2010 NFL regular season just a few days away, Scott was willing to spill the beans about his thrilling lifestyle as "The NFL RedZone Guy" on and off the set.
Q: What kind of preparation do you go through each week to get ready for 6+ hours of Sunday afternoon NFL coverage?
A: "I spend hours each day through the week scouring websites, keeping up to date on NFL news. On Saturdays before the show, I lock myself in my hotel room for hours, even when it's 75 and sunny in Los Angeles. I spend time going over developments from the week and expected storylines for Sunday because when you host a 6.5 hour show, of which 2 minutes is scripted, you need a lot of data in your God-given hard drive.'"
Q: What is the hardest part about your job?
A: "The combination of physical and mental demand really tests your focus. During our busiest moments on set, I have about 12-15 sources of stimuli coming at me with ongoing games and replays taking place and information from producer, statistician, spotter, etc. When you factor that along with standing/sitting in one spot for seven hours with just one bathroom break, you're fortunate to remember your name at the end of the night."
Q: How do you decide which game to keep it on when there are no obvious scoring opportunities?
A: "Our coordinating producer, Kent Camera, is a savant. He has such a good feel as to where to go at any given moment. The staff and I will make suggestions but he calls the locations. The beauty of the NFL is that there is always something interesting happening, even if no one is inside the 20. There is always a great quarterback or running back working against a tough defense or a player looking to break a record or reach a milestone."
Q: What did you do before hosting NFL RedZone and how did you get selected to be a fantasy football player's best friend on Sunday afternoons?
"The version that I am saving for The E True Hollywood Story is that I was put in a room with a number of other candidates and we were each given 64 ounces of water. The last person to excuse themselves got the job and I have the willpower of a ninja.
But in all seriousness, I worked for NFL Network for three previous seasons and they thought that I would be a solid fit for the show after seeing my energy and passion while handling various assignments. I still had to do a four hour audition using game tapes from the previous season, a taxing process when doing it for the first time, but I thought there were some good moments. When my boss, Executive Producer Eric Weinberger, called and offered me the hosting role, I asked him what he thought of the audition and he said, 'Scott, I watched the first 10 minutes and knew you were the guy for the job.' I thought, 'then what the heck did you stick me in a studio for 4 hours for?!?'"
Q: Do you have a favorite NFL team or did you grow up as a fan of a specific team?
A: "People don't believe me when I tell them that I don't have a favorite team, but it's true. I love the game, pure and simple (which is the perfect disposition for NFL RedZone). However I did grow up in the Detroit area and rode the Lions roller coaster for years where we had many Thanksgivings changed for better or worse thanks to Billy Sims, Barry Sanders, and company. I still have good high school friends back home who live and die with the Lions and I will be happy for them if/when they win the Super Bowl."
Q: What NFL teams are you particularly interested in watching in 2010?
A: "The Cowboys are always fun to watch because of their polarizing nature. Whether you love or hate them, there's great drama in Dallas and I think they are primed for a nice run this year. I also like what I've seen out of the Packers and Bengals during the preseason. However, there are too many great storylines to try and narrow it down with Favre, Rex Ryan and the Jets, the Saints coming off a Super Bowl Championship, uncertainty whether the Patriots either finished or fueled, Kolb and McNabb. That's the beauty of what we do - we don't have to choose on NFL RedZone. It's like Grandma baked us some cookies and we have permission to eat the whole box in one sitting."
Q: What is it like being in control of the NFL viewing experience for millions of NFL fans watching games at home?
A: "In one word: awesome. In another: humbling. There's almost no way to please everyone with the diversity of NFL fans, so I try and keep it simple: be real, let my enthusiasm show, and hope the majority of people wouldn't mind sitting next to me sometime and watching a game (or 10) together."
Q: What happens if you are sick on a Sunday and cannot make it to the studios? Is there a backup host ready to take your place?
A: "I've been blessed with good health, a high pain/sickness threshold, and the fear of being replaced. In my 16 years in the business, I've probably called in 5 times. When you do what I do, you have to be on, period. In fact, I am a best man in my best friend's upcoming wedding and he and his fiancé moved it to a Wednesday just so I could be there. It wasn't moved at my request, mind you, but the people in my life greatly respect the demands of my career."
Q: How does the crew avoid showing commercials when a game goes to a television break unexpectedly?
A: "Our Director, JD Hansen (no relation), and his team do an amazing job. They are veterans of the TV game and are always thinking one or two steps ahead. Although, every once in awhile something will sneak past us for a second or two and I will usually make a joke about the Networks trying to slip an ad in on us."
Q: How many food and bathroom breaks are you allowed to take while hosting NFL RedZone each Sunday afternoon?
A: "I am surprised it took us this long to get to the number one question that I am asked in my career. I get one, 2-minute bathroom break while I am on set for seven hours, which includes a quick rehearsal. And I have to ask permission (like I said, I have the willpower of a ninja)."
Q: Have you ever taken a quick break and missed a key moment of the game?
A: "Good question and the answer is not yet. Although here's a picture of my quick break: I can still hear the games in my ear, so I'm walking (swiftly) to the bathroom thinking ‘Please, no Touchdown, please no Touchdown, please no Touchdown...'"
Q: While hosting NFL RedZone, do you find yourself enjoying the nonstop action of games or does everything just move too rapidly while you are on the set?
A: "A little bit of both. Early on when 9-10 games kick simultaneously, it takes a while to get into the flow. But when those games are ending, and four or five are one-score games, there's no better seat on Earth."
Q: Have you ever gotten distracted watching a key moment from an NFL game and realized that you were not ready to come back on screen?
A: "One time I popped up on camera before I thought I would, but hey, that's all part of it. The audience is savvy enough to know what we're doing, so you just roll with it. It makes us human."
Q: Do you play fantasy football?
A: "Yes. I am afraid I'm a junkie and I really like NFL.com's new fantasy game with exclusive in-game highlights. In fact, I am in a league with my brother called "NFL Junkies". However, I am not a guy who likes being in multiple leagues. I say, prove your knowledge (or lack thereof) once per season."
Q: What do you think makes NFL RedZone such a valuable asset for fantasy football players?
A: "It's simple. NFL RedZone provides an immediate understanding of the highs and lows fantasy football players experience when their players or their opponents' players score. Sometimes I'll be doing an update of a team, say the Patriots, and I think of all the emotions that will pour out one way or another if I say 'Moss catches for the TD' or "Welker grabs it for the score." You have to love fantasy football for the simple fact that it boils down to the joy of telling your friends and loved ones, "I know more about the game we love than you" and on occasion, have to listen to them tell you the same exact thing in colorful and creative terms."
Q: Who in your mind is the most electric player in the RedZone in the league today?
A: "That is a tough question. I would say Chris Johnson, but he's electric from anywhere. Maybe Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald? If either is targeted in the endzone, is there anyone watching the game who thinks "incomplete" when the ball is in the air?"
Q: Have you ever had players talk to you about the coverage of their games on NFL RedZone? Or talk about watching NFL RedZone on their bye weeks?
A: "I've had some former players send me a tweet (@hansonscott) saying that they love the show and I know some teams have it on in (or near) the locker room if they're playing the late kickoff and want to see some fantastic finishes. This year, ALL of them will see us, as we're going to be piped into every stadium in the League."
Q: Is there one NFL game you remember from 2009 that you didn't want to switch away from? If so, what made that game so special?
A: "One of my favorite finishes was Vince Young's 99-yard game winning drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Kenny Britt with no time left on the clock. I remember thinking the whole time, "this game, their season, and perhaps his career could go two completely different directions thanks to what happens here." There were so many plays that would've ended the game on that drive and NFL RedZone showed you all of them. On top of that, most people were getting a different "national" game on their broadcast stations, so it felt like we were bringing fans one of the great finishes of 2009 that they wouldn't have been able to see live if they didn't have NFL RedZone because it was one of the regional games."
Q: Have you ever been recognized by fans in public as "The NFL RedZone Guy" or a similar moniker?
A: "Yes, and I actually remember the first time. I was in the airport in December and three boys ages 8-12 came up to me and said that they watch NFL RedZone every week. It was cool. We talked football for awhile and then we both got on our flights. I hope those kids are watching for the next 20 years."
Q: As the host of 6+ hours of nonstop, commercial-free football, do you ever get tired on the set?
A: "Here's a little known Scott Hanson fun fact: I don't drink coffee. I've had one cup in my entire life and I hated it. I'll admit that somewhere in the 3rd quarter of the late games, we all hit a bit of a wall but then I remind myself that we're only 30-40 minutes away from more potential fantastic finishes... and that gets my heart pumping again.
At the end of the night, I crash in my office, check my Twitter feedback and usually watch the NBC Sunday Night Game. At some point they will mention Sunday injuries and I start thinking about next week, firing it up again, and inviting millions of people over to ‘our place' to watch some football."
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