Super Bowl winner Nate Ebner has been given time off from his NFL career in an attempt to play sevens rugby for the United States
The 27-year-old defensive back will train with the US team in the run-up to the Rio Games
At 17 he became the youngest player to play for the US rugby sevens team.
New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner is taking a leave of absence from the Patriots starting Tuesday to begin his Olympic training for the U.S. rugby team and this summer’s Olympics.
We are proud to support @Natebner34 in his effort to earn a place on the United States National Rugby team.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) March 15, 2016
Ebner was given permission from the Patriots to leave to begin training at the U.S. Olympic training facility in California. Ebner is scheduled to rejoin the Patriots after the Aug. 6-11 Olympic rugby competition.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots from top to bottom for giving me the opportunity to come back and play for a truly first-class organization,” Ebner said.
The Patriots officially re-signed Ebner, who was unrestricted free agent, to a two-year contract on Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“I also want to thank them and USA Rugby for giving me the opportunity to chase a dream I’ve had since I was a boy in a sport in which I’ve always had a passion,” he said. “I can’t put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and family as well.
“I plan to represent the Patriots and our country to the best of my ability. Thanks again and Go Pats and go USA.”
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Ebner said he realizes his participation in the Olympics isn’t a lock.
“I am absolutely not guaranteed a spot,” he said. “I have to try out for the team like anybody else and I have to earn a spot like anybody. I’m just lucky to even have the opportunity to even try.”