FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 24:  Defensive back Nate Ebner #43 of the New England Patriots recovers a loose punt in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Nate Ebner: NFL to rugby sevens
01:23 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Nate Ebner in U.S. Rugby sevens Rio squad

Ebner took time out from NFL to play rugby

Won Super Bowl with New England Patriots

Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic debut

CNN  — 

He’s already won the Super Bowl – now Nate Ebner is targeting Olympic gold.

The New England Patriots man sealed his place in the U.S. Rugby Sevens squad for Rio, Monday after his gamble in taking time out of NFL paid off big time.

Defensive back Ebner who helped the Patriots triumph in Super Bowl XLIX, took temporary leave from the franchise in May to pursue his Olympic dream.

A decade ago, aged 17, Ebner was the youngest player in U.S. sevens history, and starred for 15-a-side teams at international age-grade tournaments.

However, he started playing football at the end of his college days and switched sports after being drafted by the Patriots in 2012.

He was a free agent in April but received a new two-year deal the following month.

Ebner will return to the NFL after the Olympics where his team will face host nation Brazil, 2015-16 Sevens Series Champions Fiji and Argentina.

Ebner is joined by speed kings Carlin Isles and Perry Baker, while the team will be captained by Madison Hughes who recently became the country’s all-time leading scorer on the Sevens World Series.

“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,” coach Mike Friday told U.S. Rugby’s official website.

“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.

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“The boys fully appreciate the accountability that comes with that responsibility and are looking forward with confidence to those challenges. While we are not the pre-tournament favorites like Fiji who have to play with that expectation, we are a team who are hugely respected and feared by all other countries as genuine contenders.

“We know that on any given Sunday we have the power, pace and physicality to match and beat anyone. The boys recognize the magnitude of the task but are confident that we can be medal contenders if we play to our ability.

“We will represent the people of the USA in a way that they expect and deserve, exhibiting the characteristics that will make them proud.”