New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner has become the only active NFL player to qualify for the Rio Olympics and will represent USA Rugby.
Why Pats’ Ebner pursues Olympic rugby dream
Nate Ebner’s U.S. Olympic rugby quest might seem odd at first glance, but it’s a return to his roots and a way for the Patriots special-teams ace to honor his father’s memory.
USA Rugby Men’s Sevens coach Mike Friday announced the 12 athletes and his seven staff to represent Team USA on Monday.
Ebner took a leave of absence from the Patriots in May to begin his training. He is scheduled to rejoin the team after the Aug. 6-11 Olympic rugby competition.
Ebner was an All-American rugby player at Ohio State before the Patriots selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.
The Patriots re-signed Ebner, who was an unrestricted free agent, to a two-year contract in May. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is set to participate in the Summer Olympic Games after being approved to represent St. Lucia in track and field in Rio.
Team USA will be captained by Madison Hughes in Rio while Perry Baker and Carlin Isles are also included. Saracens’ Chris Wyles is also given the nod despite having not played for the USA on the 2015-16 Sevens Series and is joined in the squad by Japan-based Andrew Durutalo.
Zack Test, Folau Niua, Danny Barrett, Garrett Bender, Ben Pinkelman and Mako Unufe complete the squad with three of Nate Augspurger, Will Holder, Martin Iosefo, Thretton Palamo and Shalom Suniula traveling as reserves.
“It’s a huge honor to represent your country at any time in your life, but to be given the responsibility at the Olympic Games — the biggest sporting event on the planet — makes it even more special,” said USA coach Friday. “The fact that we will be part of Team USA and that as a result we will be exposing the USA sporting public to another team sport they can engage with and enjoy watching, as well as passionately support their country, is immense.”