Nate Ebner Leaves NFL to Compete for U.S. Rugby Team in Olympics

Nate Ebner

Longtime NFL safety and special teams ace Nate Ebner is leaving the NFL to try-out for a spot on the United States Rugby Sevens team in the Tokyo Olympics. Ebner, a three-time Super Bowl champion, spent the 2020 season with the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

Ebner played for the U.S. Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Nate Ebner to Try Out for U.S. Rugby Sevens

“We are very excited to welcome Nate back into the pack,” said the USA coach, Mike Friday to the Guardian. “Nate is an authentic, good man who carries himself with humility, has a burning desire to achieve and a passion to embed rugby and its values in the American sporting landscape. He is a Dawg, a Pioneer and will be up for the challenge.”

Following an eight-year stint with the New England Patriots, Nate Ebner followed first-year head coach Joe Judge to the New York Giants. While the safety only played 36 snaps on defense, he turned into one of the most reliable members of New York’s special teams unit. According to Pro Football Reference, Ebner played a team-high 306 special teams snaps throughout the season.

Ebner originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Selected by the New England Patriots, Ebner always made his living as a special teams expert. Nobody values special teams more than Bill Belichick, and Ebner and Matthew Slater combined to form one of the most effective special teams duos in the league.

Surprisingly enough, Ebner actually played a good amount of safety early in his rookie year. With a lack of depth at the position, the team turned trusted Ebner to cover the deep part of the field in their sub-packages. However, Ebner reverted to special teams once New England acquired Aqib Talib and moved Devin McCourty to safety.

While Ebner’s biggest claim to fame comes from the football field, the Ohio State product is also an Olympic rugby player. In the summer of 2016, the Patriots granted Ebner a leave of absence to try out for the United States National Rugby Sevens Team. Despite not playing the sport professionally, Ebner ended up making it onto the Olympic roster. While Team USA didn’t receive a medal for their efforts, Ebner managed to score twice.

Throughout the course of his NFL career, Ebner has registered 103 tackles, one quarterback hit, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He also has one career rushing attempt for 14 yards.

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