A Super Bowl winner will spend this offseason aiming for Olympic rugby glory with USA Sevens
Chasing a dream.
The New England Patriots have granted safety Nate Ebner a leave of absence from the team so he can can pursue a place on the USA Sevens team for the Olympic Games.
The 27-year-old was a rugby star long before he was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, becoming the youngest US Sevens player when he made his international debut at the age of 17. He also played 15-a-side for the US Under-19 and Under-20 sides before switching to American football two years later at Ohio State.
Now, though, with the sport making its reappearance at the Olympic Games, Ebner has been granted the time off to see if he can break back into the American squad for Rio.
If successful he will return to the Pats after the Games in August, midway through training camp for the 2016 season.
Patriots' S Nate Ebner taking leave of absence from team today to begin training for US rugby team and summer Olympics. Returns in Aug.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2016
"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 told ESPN.
"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. 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."
Ebner has mostly featured on special teams and was part of the Patriots squad which won the Super Bowl a year ago, and this week signed a new contract with the team.
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