Patriots' Ebner to chase Olympic dream with USA rugby sevens


Nate Ebner is putting football on hold to pursue another passion.

The New England Patriots safety, a Super Bowl XLIX champion, is taking a leave of absence from the team to start training with the United States rugby sevens squad as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio this August.

Ebner, who was an unrestricted free agent, only re-signed with the franchise on Tuesday but has been immediately released in a bid to earn a spot in the team for Brazil.

"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 in a statement.

"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's father, Jeff, played college rugby at the University of Minnesota and the sport helped form a strong bond between the pair before Jeff's murder in November 2008.

Ebner represented USA in rugby at Under-19 and U20 level and has appeared in 47 games over the last four seasons with New England.