The Nate show: Super Bowl winner Ebner earns USA sevens call-up for the Olympics
New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner was named Monday to the US rugby sevens team for the Rio Olympics, making him the only National Football League player with a chance to capture gold in Brazil.
Ebner, who also worked on special teams to help the Patriots capture last year’s Super Bowl title, was given permission by the team last March to chase his Olympic dream, an opportunity he called “humbling” and “amazing”.
WATCH: NFL’s Nate Ebner bags a brace on his Singapore Sevens debut for USA
Ebner will miss about two weeks of pre-season workouts for New England coach Bill Belichick while with the American squad.
“I’m going to miss a few things I don’t want to, but at the end of the day it’s a really big opportunity for me,” Ebner said.
“I think Bill understands rugby is a passion of mine and that’s where my background lies.”
Ebner was the youngest-ever USA sevens player at age 17 before going to Ohio State, where he split time with rugby and American football until he started his NFL career, while never losing his love for rugby.
“Even though he will be away from our team during an important period of our off-season, he will still be getting excellent physical training,” Belichick said.
The Americans, who won gold when rugby was last played in the Olympics back in 1924 in the 15-a-side format, will be captained by Madison Hughes, the all-time US scoring leader on the World Rugby Sevens Series, and will include regulars Zack Test, Folau Niua, Danny Barrett, Garrett Bender and Maka Unufe.
Carlin Isles, dubbed “the fastest man in rugby”, and Perry Baker, the second-highest try-scorer from the 2015-16 international circuit, are also featured along with Andrew Durutalo and Chris Wyles, who took the European Champions Cup and English Premiership double with Saracens this past season.
USA sevens squad for Rio Olympics
Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Garrett Bender, Andrew Durutalo, Nate Ebner, Madison Hughes (c), Carlin Isles, Folau Niua, Ben Pinkelman, Zack Test, Maka Unufe, Chris Wyles