Kyle Brandt ’01
Courtesy Kyle Brandt
NFL training camps are underway, with most teams kicking off their first preseason games this week. But for Kyle Brandt ’01, seeing teams back on the field is just one part a year-round cycle. Brandt and his co-hosts on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football cover every phase — the draft, rookie camps, signing deadlines, free agency, and contract extensions, along with the personalities in the game and the games themselves — while aiming for a light, engaging tone that works for an audience just starting to sip its morning coffee.

“It’s not a lot of Xs and Os,” Brandt says. “I like the idea that people get out of bed, and one of the very first things that they do, before they even set their feet on the ground sometimes, is turn on our show and sit at that table with us, through their TV.”

Brandt, a former Princeton running back, joined Good Morning Football for its launch a year ago after spending nine years as a producer for sports commentator Jim Rome. But his route from Princeton Stadium to the NFL Network was a meandering one — as Brandt is quick to point out, his résumé “is weirder than yours.”

In his senior year, Brandt auditioned for MTV’s Real World at a Nassau Street pub and eventually landed a spot on the show when it filmed in Chicago, near his hometown. From there, he moved to Hollywood, where he took a role on Days of Our Lives and spent three and a half years on the daytime drama. He ultimately soured on the uneven schedule of an acting career and began a new path in sports broadcasting.

Brandt says that sports had been his “first love,” and producing for Rome primarily meant coming up with creative ways to discuss sports and pop culture on a daily basis — a reasonable fit for an English major. He didn’t mind working behind the scenes, and he quickly became accustomed to waking up at 4 a.m., which he’s continued to do in his current job.

When Brandt was an undergrad, Chris Berman’s irreverent Sunday-night NFL highlight calls on ESPN were appointment viewing; morning shows were the realm of Katie Couric or Bryant Gumbel. Today’s media landscape has made room for something that combines elements of both. And who better to lead the discussion than a former college running back/reality star/soap-opera actor/sports-talk producer?

Brandt says that on Good Morning Football, his days as a Tiger tailback rank relatively low on his list of credentials. “I do know the game,” he says. “I know the price you have to pay in the game — I’ve had major injuries, I’ve had a major concussion — so I understand that. I also understand, at the same time, that I played running back [at Princeton], and I’m on a network with Marshall Faulk and Terrell Davis, these legends, Hall-of-Famers, the who’s-who of great NFL players. So I always try to keep myself in check.”