The Kentavius Street Life: New Orleans Saints defensive tackle discusses dogs, doughnuts, Big Easy cuisine and Japanese culture | NFL News

It's been a fresh start for Kentavius Street in New Orleans

It’s been a fresh start for Kentavius Street in New Orleans

Getting an NFL sack or being greeted by your dog after a day at work? It’s quite the toss up for Kentavius Street when it comes to deciding on the better feeling.

A predicament made even harder for the New Orleans Saints defensive tackle since the addition of exceptionally-named puppy ‘Doodlebop’ to the Street family. If anything, he can count on a wagging tail to be waiting for him when he returns from London, ideally with a sack and a win to his name, on the back of Sunday’s clash with the Minnesota Vikings at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“I would say a sack, just because it’s so rare and so hard to get, but coming home to my dog is a close second!” Street tells Sky Sports.

Compartmentalising life on and off the field has become an area of focus for Street as he learns more about the keys to thriving in the NFL, and the company of a furry friend, while perhaps trivial to some non-dog dads, has played its part in that.

“Those days where you just don’t feel like doing anything and having that little companion there, there’s nothing like it,” he adds.

“I have two Shiba Inus right now and it’s the best thing, they keep you on their toes because they’re kind of like little kids but it’s amazing. Just seeing how it brightens up their day when you walk through the door, it’s just nothing like it, it’s a really good feeling seeing how excited they are.”

Kentavius Street's dog 'Doodlebop'

Kentavius Street’s dog ‘Doodlebop’

Such is the nature of a self-admitted introvert, it would be easy to know little about Street besides his path as a 2018 fourth-round pick out of NC State for the San Francisco 49ers who saw his early career hampered by injury and who believes his best is finally primed to come to fruition having signed for the Saints this offseason.

Ask a relative or a teammate for insight on the Street they know, and answers might range from goofy to geeky, most definitely “always hungry”.

A day in the life of Street typically begins with d-line meetings, film study and practice, before ending with him plotting his next and by no means last garage purchase.

“I’m getting to a point now in my career where I’m blessed to have the money I have so I’m becoming a little bit of a car collector and my niche is Japanese cars,” he explains. “Right now I have a Nissan Supra, a Maserati RX-7, I’m looking to acquire a Honda NSX, it’s a really nice timeless car, it was made in the 90s I think.

“It’s a beautiful car, I’ve just been obsessing about it, my screensaver right now for my computer, iPad and phone is that car.”

While it may not rival Brett Keisel famously arriving to Pittsburgh Steelers training camp in a dump truck, Street puts a ‘if you know you know’ tag on the Honda.

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Street chases down Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield

Street chases down Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield

There is a fun irony to a Street’s car fad, at the dream tier of which sits a McLaren F1 he admits might have to wait until after he has retired. If all goes well, that should be a lengthy wait.

“It’s a hobby I’m relatively new to, I’ve always had a thing for cars but I’ve never really delved into it but just having the resources I’ve got is just great to be able to feed that hobby – and sometimes it’s bad!

“Sometimes it gets a little excessive so I have to control myself!”

The Japanese cars are merely a branch to a fascination with Japanese culture that stems from a childhood of watching anime series and researching the writers of his favourite shows to find out where they grew up. Here was the kid in him, maybe even the aforementioned geek in him.

“I ended up jumping into the cars, then once I got into the cars it was over with, I was just like ‘nothing in Japan can do any wrong’, I’m all for everything they do,” he laughs.

“It’s from what I’ve seen and how they carry themselves, it’s a very safe and close-knit society and I think that’s something the world can really benefit from.

“I think it’s very rare, especially how busy modern day society has people, to have that close-knit family-type community in a lot of places I’ve seen in Japan I feel like that’s something unique and something that made it a bond with me and Japanese culture.”

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram reveals he was hoping to catch some Premier League action while in London for their NFL clash with the Minnesota Vikings!

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New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram reveals he was hoping to catch some Premier League action while in London for their NFL clash with the Minnesota Vikings!

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram reveals he was hoping to catch some Premier League action while in London for their NFL clash with the Minnesota Vikings!

He has even taken to studying how to speak Japanese, though admits language-learning app ‘Duolingo’ is “not the happiest with me” after a recent hiatus. For those unfamiliar, the app produces regular guilt-drenched notifications if users miss a day, as if a teacher telling off a child for forgetting their homework.

“It is very tough, oh my goodness. I’ve been off my game, I need to get back on it,” he says. “Not only do you have to learn how to pronounce everything and the slang in the language, but you also need to know the kanji and hiragana, they have different sets of symbols you have to be able to read.

“I’ve been trying to read anime with the Japanese sub-titles but it just happens so fast!”

His zest for interests outside the NFL have purpose aside from pure entertainment. Street believes discovering an identity separate to football has helped him within the game following a rocky introduction to the league that saw him manage just three appearances as a rookie after tearing his ACL.

“I think that’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself these last two years of my career,” he explains. “The first two years of my career I was injured so I kind of just sulked at home, I didn’t have any hobbies but towards the end of 2020 I really started to delve into cars and it really made a large difference in my life.

“I was really able to take the stresses that come with my career and be able to offset them with doing something I really love. I really think that not only made me a better person but a better football player, because I wasn’t trapping all the emotional and physical stress that comes with playing football.”

If not geeking out, he is cooking out as an unashamed foodie who concedes he has to employ the same discipline he does with buying cars when it comes to limiting cheat days.

The mastery and variety of New Orleans cuisine has not helped matters.

“I don’t think there’s any better place in the US to find food and explore food options,” he jokes. “Honestly the first 30 days I was here I gained 10 pounds so I had to lay off it, the food was too good!”

A self-reward for a sack, tackles for loss or any kind of productive game usually consists of cookies or a dozen doughnuts as somebody with a “crazy sweet tooth”.

“I’ll be on a game of Madden or 2K, FIFA, Grand Turismo, have a dozen doughnuts, a glass of warm milk and I go through all of them in like an hour and maybe get a double cheeseburger and some fries, really treat myself!” he says.

“Then really try to burn it off the next day, like I need to run two-three miles to burn it off!”

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From the food to the vibrancy of the Big Easy itself, it took Street no time to feel at home in New Orleans surrounded by a community devoted to the Saints and united by adversity in years gone by.

“I have felt it, something I’ve always said to people about playing sports in the south is that football is not a sport in the south, it’s more like a religion, and people really really care about it,” he said.

“I felt like that was something I kind of missed being in San Francisco. San Francisco’s fan base is second to none but just being here is a different environment, people live and die by the Saints and their success and it’s great to be around that.

“It pushes you to be a better player. It makes it that much easier to go and give it all on gameday because it’s whole families out there that are so passionate and care so much about the game.”

Highlights of the New Orleans Saints against the Carolina Panthers in Week Three of the NFL season.

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Highlights of the New Orleans Saints against the Carolina Panthers in Week Three of the NFL season.

Highlights of the New Orleans Saints against the Carolina Panthers in Week Three of the NFL season.

On the field, he finds himself part of a new era of sorts for the Saints following the promotion of defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach in the wake of Sean Payton’s departure.

Street currently plays a rotational role in a defensive line anchored by seven-time Pro Bowler Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport either side of David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle. Allen’s defensive units had ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed and scoring over the past three seasons, per ESPN Stats.

“Coach Allen is so passionate about defense and coming from San Francisco with an offensive minded head coach (Kyle Shanahan) you can really see the two extremes and it’s really good,” said Street.

“Coming here you can tell defense is everything and defense is on a premium and having that privilege to play on a defense that is so sought after and so much pride is put into it makes playing defense here that much more enjoyable because you know they selected you because you’re the cream of the crop.

“I think it’s really special. I think the sky is the limit for us, we have a few things we need to hammer out but it’s a great experience.”

Between the team set-up and a hope that the personal setbacks are behind him, Street envisions himself being as happy as he has been in his NFL career so far.

“Most definitely. I’m so grateful to be past all the injuries I had in my past and to come down here to New Orleans and play in the time and setting we have here is so exciting,” he continued.

“My old d-line coach from college (Ryan Nielsen) is down here, he’s the defensive coordinator here and it’s almost surreal. When he left NC State I was really down but now to play for him at a professional level is super special.

“A lot of things in life happen for a reason and for this to come full circle is just making not only the games we play in that much more special, but the season as a whole, it almost feels like a fairy tale at times.”

Watch Street’s Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings live at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sky Sports NFL from 2.30pm on Sunday.

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