There is a common saying in the NFL that if a coach is trying to choose between two quarterbacks, then he does not have one quality option.
Doug Kyed, who traveled to Miami on Sept. 7 to cover the New England Patriots’ 2014 season opener, was facing a real-world equivalent to this when he received his diploma in journalism as part of Emerson’s class of 2008.
“Throughout pretty much all of high school and college I was split between playing guitar in hardcore bands and being into sports,” said Kyed, who is now entering his second full season as Patriots beat writer for NESN.com. “And those two worlds don’t exactly mix well.”
He eventually dropped the former for the latter and is now immersed in the 24/7 world of football, covering everything from the Patriots’ free agency to playoff games as the only NFL beat writer on staff for the New England Sports Network.
This success in the competitive world of sports writing, however, did not come until a few years after college defined by punk rock and paid dues.
Kyed spent the first 11 years of his childhood in Seattle, a hotbed for alternative music and passionate sports fans.
“Through work, I had eight season tickets for the Seattle Seahawks,” said Lance Kyed, the father of the Patriots beat writer, also an employee of Emerson for the last 17 years. “So Doug would go to the games as early as four, five years old. His interest in football took off from there more than any other sport.”
“Oh yeah,” he continued, “Doug always loved music too.”
After moving to Sharon, Mass. in 1997, Kyed said he divided much of his time between reading some of the greats in sports writing and learning how to play songs by the Beach Boys on his guitar.
In high school Kyed and his friends formed a band called Actions in Objects, who played at Veteran of Foreign War halls on weekends and toured the East Coast the summer before college. Kyed also played football and baseball, wrote for his high school newspaper, The Talon, and took journalism courses that pushed him towards applying to Emerson.
By the time Kyed started at Emerson in the fall of 2004 as a journalism major, he was a punk and hardcore-loving 18-year-old, but without the confidence that he said many of his peers had from the get-go.
“As a freshman, sportswriting was sort of the long-term goal, but it felt like more of a pipe dream than something I could actually obtain,” he said. “While most people were doing internships, I was probably having a little too much fun.”
Despite a one year stint on the baseball team that included far too many early morning practices for his liking, Kyed, similar to what he did in high school, befriended people with the same music interests and immersed himself in the culture of hardcore music.
He went to live shows on weekends, traveling as far as New York and Philadelphia if the headline was considered worthy. By his senior year, he had joined a band called Beartrap and was playing everyday. That summer, he started touring with his band despite being enrolled in a class he needed to pass to officially graduate.
For the next 2 years, Kyed remained with his band and spent time selling T-shirts at Fenway Park, working at a courier company and editing videos at a company called Video Express on Newbury Street -- a job “that almost applied” to his major.
He commuted from Allston to Sharon, covering high school sports part-time for the Sharon Advocate and ESPN Boston. He sometimes went from one job right to another, writing stories during lunch breaks, all in an effort to support himself while playing music.
Kyed’s life remained centered around Beartrap until the conclusion of a two month cross country tour that ended in August of 2009.
“On about the 57th day of living in a car I suddenly decided I needed to get serious,” said Kyed with a smile. “That stuff was cool as a 23, 24-year-old but I decided right there that I couldn’t do it forever.”
He still performed off and on, however, until his last show in 2010.
From there, Kyed continued covering high school sports and began writing for NEPatriotsdraft.com, a site for Patriots news and draft analysis, all while holding on to his job at Video Express.
This continued until he got in contact with NESN and was brought on as an unpaid contributor during the summer of 2012, submitting training camp write-ups and getting bylines on the website.
In September of 2012, he was officially hired for a desk job. His job was to update the site with sports news from 4 p.m. to midnight for 40 hours a week -- his first full time job as a sportswriter.
“When they first hired me, I started writing to my strengths,” he said. “I wrote a lot of opinion pieces about the Patriots and showed my knowledge of football.”
The following April he was promoted to the job of beat reporter for the Patriots. He was one of two people with this job at the time, but has since taken over as the only voice behind NESN’s coverage of the Patriots.
“Doug is a hard worker,” said Justin Hathaway, Kyed’s boss and Manager of Digital Strategy at NESN. “He understands how competitive his job is. There is an enormous appetite for Patriot’s football and Doug is up to the task.”
Kyed says he currently writes anywhere from five to eight stories a day, including a live blog and story for every Patriot’s game.
Despite taking an unconventional path to becoming an NFL beat writer, he said he was happy with the time he spent between college and NESN, saying his route was right for him.
“Obviously there are perks to finding a job right out of college,” he said, “but doing all that stuff after college made me realize what I actually wanted to do. I saw what the other side was like, and it really wasn’t for me.”
Kyed’s father acknowledged some concern during his son’s early 20s, but ultimately said he was proud of what Kyed has been able to accomplish since.
“He wasn’t always focused. For a while we thought we should have sent him to Syracuse,” said his father, grinning. “But he’s gone a long way in a highly competitive field.”