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All score in this RedZone

By Chad Finn
Globe Staff / October 7, 2011

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Those among us who recall the 1970s heyday of “Monday Night Football’’ remember the anticipation of waiting to find out which moments from Sunday’s action would make Howard Cosell’s halftime highlights package.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, it was ESPN’s “NFL Primetime,’’ hosted by Chris Berman, that was the go-to source to wrap up a day’s worth of NFL action.

But nothing can top what football fans get nowadays from the NFL RedZone. The channel, presented commercial-free by the NFL Network from 1-8 p.m. on Sundays, launched in September 2009.

With its real-time updates and quest to show every touchdown in every game as it happens, it is the ultimate evolution of the highlights show.

“The response has been so pleasantly overwhelming,’’ said Scott Hanson, the energetic and affable host of the RedZone since its inception. “There’s almost nothing you can do in television sports and entertainment that won’t get a mixed reaction. Seventy percent of the people will love something, and 30 percent won’t think it’s any good. From everything I’ve heard in that third season that we’re in, it’s 95 percent positive.

“And why wouldn’t it be? You’ve got a seven-hour show, showing you all the best plays from the most popular sport in the country, with no commercials, and all of the dramatic story lines, all of the fantastic finishes, all of the tremendously athletic plays, shown to you live and in HD.’’

It’s hard to find a flaw. It’s a fantasy football junkie’s dream, practically a necessity for those who have been known to put a wager on a game or two.

Hanson, who likens the approach to the way CBS has covered the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, said he sometimes hears from fans of an older demographic who believe it’s too fast-paced.

“Other than that, though, the only complaint I get from people is that it comes at them so fast and furious that they don’t know when to get up and go to the bathroom,’’ he said.

Speaking of which: Seven hours. No commercials. When does he get a chance to . . . well, go?

“I joke with people all the time,’’ he said. “ ‘Lookit, I studied sports journalism at Syracuse University, graduated with honors, I worked my way up from small markets, I studied my craft, and I’ve been reduced to the man with the most discussed and admired bladder in sports television.’

“I’m not joking. If I get one question a week about ‘when do you go to the bathroom?,’ I get 50. I should change my Twitter profile to say, ‘I only get one bathroom break in seven hours.’

“And sometimes I don’t get any. Last week I didn’t take one. Everything was just going bang, bang, bang with the action, and you just have use the willpower of a ninja, I like to say.’’

Getting the players In the aftermath of the Red Sox’ September collapse, the team’s flagship radio station, WEEI, has been on top of its game when it comes to securing interviews to help sort through the fallout. Play-by-play voice Dave O’Brien was particularly candid Tuesday on “The Big Show.’’ Terry Francona, whose eight-year run as manager ended Friday, left some questions unanswered during a 40-plus-minute interview with Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway on the same program Wednesday, but it stood as a worthy exit interview. But the most compelling conversation will begin at 8 a.m. today, when owner John Henry, along with team president Larry Lucchino, sit in for an hour with “The Dennis and Callahan’’ show. Save for a flurry of Twitter activity Tuesday night, Henry has kept a low profile since the end of the season, and missed Friday’s press conference on the day of Francona’s departure after taking a fall on his yacht.

Orsillo on the way back NESN is expected to announce in the coming weeks that Don Orsillo will remain with the network on a three-year contract, according to industry sources. Orsillo, who has been the Red Sox play-by-play voice on NESN since 2001, has built a national profile in recent years with his well-received postseason work on TBS. The status of popular reporter Heidi Watney, who joined the network in April 2008 and had the option year of her contract picked up last October, is less certain, though it is believed the network hopes to announce Watney and Orsillo’s return at the same time.

Chad Finn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globechadfinn.

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