HONG KONG SEVENS
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Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2016

NFL player Nate Ebner driven by father’s memory to make US sevens side for the Olympics

New England Patriots defensive back is playing in the HKFC Tens to sharpen his skills for sevens

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 6:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 10:41pm

Nate Ebner has a quiet confidence about him that gives the impression he’s not a big fan of being told he can’t do something.

It’s not surprising for a guy who has played two sports at the elite level and has a Super Bowl ring to show for his troubles.

While life hasn’t always been kind to the 27-year-old – he lost his father in 2008 – on the sporting field Ebner is used to getting his own way.

The sport kind of adopted me. I knew at some point I would come back, it was just a matter of if I would be playing in the old boys league or what it would be
Nate Ebner

The steely resolve that has seen him craft a successful NFL career as a defensive back with the New England Patriots is now driving Ebner in his latest quest - earning a spot in the United States’ sevens squad for the upcoming Olympics.

“Yeh, of course, or I wouldn’t be here,” Ebner said when quizzed about whether he truly believes he can make the Olympic squad.

The here was this week’s GFI HKFC Tens, where Ebner kick started his comeback with a promising performance for Tens regular Samurai.

“It’s really good competition, really good players out here and it’s exciting to watch, let alone play in,” Ebner said.

He has plenty of reasons to be confident, having grown up playing rugby and debuting for the US sevens team at just 17 before switching to football in college.

For Ebner, it was only ever a matter of time before he returned to the game he grew up worshipping.

“My father played and I was just around it at a really young age, just around the sport my whole life really,” Ebner said. “The sport kind of adopted me. I knew at some point I would come back, it was just a matter of if I would be playing in the old boys league or what it would be.”

The memory of his father is driving Ebner on, as is the opportunity to play with a US team that is one of the form sides of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Watch Nate Ebner make a tackle in the NFL

“It would be great to be a part of such an elite group and a group that is growing so much,” Ebner said. “If I could do anything to be a part of that and help the team, that’d be awesome.”

America is famed for giving gifted sportspeople opportunities to excel in multiple sports, but Ebner’s story has the potential to be outstanding in an age when professional athletes are trained to the minute.

It’s just so rare to get to that game [the Super Bowl] and find a way to win it. It’ll be a lifetime memory that I’ll forever remember and cherish
Nate Ebner

To be a Super Bowl-winner is rare enough, let alone participating in the Olympics between seasons.

“It’s a pretty amazing experience when you’re in a league of 32 competitive teams every year,” Ebner said. “It’s just so rare to get to that game [the Super Bowl] and find a way to win it. It’ll be a lifetime memory that I’ll forever remember and cherish.”

More good news for Ebner, who was drafted by the Patriots in 2012, is that he will pick up where he left off in the NFL whenever his Olympic dream ends.

“They’re allowing me to chase a dream, to get on the Olympic team and go to the Olympics, and if everything works out, come back into training camp when it’s all over with,” he said.