NFL

Bucs Starter Rakeem Nunez-Roches Quietly Breeds French Bulldogs in His Spare Time

Rakeem Nunez-Roches isn’t the first Buccaneers name fans think of. Despite his importance to Tampa Bay’s defense, Nunez-Roches’ side hobby is far less brutal than NFL football. He moonlights as a breeder of French bulldogs. While this has offered up challenges, this is where he finds peace to get ahead on the field, too.

Who is Rakeem Nunez-Roches?

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Nunez-Roches entered the NFL with the Chiefs, reports Pro-Football-Reference. A sixth-round tackle out of Southern Miss, he was far from a surefire success. But he made it on the field for seven games as a rookie. By year three, he started more games than he came off the bench. After three years in Kansas being ceremoniously cut and re-signed several times, Nunez-Roches found a new home in Tampa Bay. 

Since then, he’s watched as the team struggled under Jameis Winston to become an overnight contender with Tom Brady. Now, he’s awaiting a game against his former team in Super Bowl 55. Regardless of how that goes, however, he has a side job to worry about, too. 

Nunez-Roches’ side job

Rakeem Nunez-Roches of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers takes the field for warm ups
Rakeem Nunez-Roches of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers takes the field for warm ups | Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

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Since 2016, Nunez-Roches and his wife have bred French Bulldogs and Pocket American Bullies. A dog-lover since his childhood in Belize, Nunez-Roches does not view his side business as a moneymaker. Rather, he considers it a passion project that helps him connect dogs with loving homes. 

This occasionally backfires, according to Pro Football Talk. In early 2020, rumors swirled that Nunez-Roches and his wife abandoned one of their dogs, a Cane Corso named Jitterbug, on the side of the road. This unfortunate situation made its way to animal rights groups, that, according to Nunez-Roches, misrepresented him. He told NBC Sports via Pro Football Talk:

“Recently, a few animal rights individuals in Tampa began telling a story about us abandoning a Cane Corso on a road in Tampa that ended up in an animal shelter. First of all, the story is completely false. We would never abandon a dog. We were expecting our first baby, so we thought it would be safer to have only smaller dogs in the house.”

According to them, they found a home for the dog at hand. How that dog ended up at a shelter was anyone’s guess. Nunez-Roches doubled down about his love for dogs and didn’t want to be painted as another Michael Vick, reports the Tampa Bay Times. He explained:

“We are dog lovers and think it’s fantastic that there are so many groups out there that love dogs and animals too, but people need to do their homework before falsely accusing others. We love and have taken care of dogs for years, but because a few overzealous people mistakenly assumed we had abandoned a dog that was no longer ours, we have received threats and had our reputations smeared in the media.”

The storms have since subsided. With Nunez-Roches ready to take the field at Super Bowl 55, they offer him solace away from what makes him the most money. 

What to expect in Super Bowl 55

True to form, Nunez-Roches isn’t likely the difference between a Super Bowl win and loss, reports Tampa Bay Times. However, his defense can make the job easier for Brady and company to focus on doing what needs to be done on the other side of the court. Nunez-Roches has already weathered a potential PR disaster and come out on top. Winning a football game may pale in comparison. 

Nunez-Roches might make his money as an NFL player, but his night job might be where his true passion lies.