CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Nate Ebner won’t get to compete at the Tokyo Olympics between NFL seasons after withdrawing from contention for the U.S. rugby sevens squad because of injury.
The 32-year-old Ebner said he had surgery after playing for the New York Giants in the 2020 NFL season and hadn’t recovered in time to push for selection. He sustained a knee injury last season and is now a free agent.
Ebner was playing for the New England Patriots when he took time out in 2016 to play for the U.S. men’s team as rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro.
“It pains me to announce my withdrawal from competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics,” Ebner said in a statement Tuesday. “While my recovery is on track for the next football season, unfortunately, the timetables did not align with trials for the Games.”
The U.S. men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams are playing in the Quest for Gold Sevens tournament in Los Angeles starting Friday to fine-tune for the Olympic tournament.
Mike Friday, head coach of the U.S. men’s rugby sevens team, said the injury meant Ebner hadn’t been able to physically compete for a spot.
“We are all disappointed for Nate and appreciative of his efforts to rejoin the squad and make a run for Tokyo,” Friday said. “Ultimately it is our responsibility to take a long-term physical view and ensure we are protecting Nate’s best interest considering what’s ahead for him this forthcoming football season.”
The U.S. Olympic men’s rugby sevens team will be announced July 2. The Olympic sevens tournament kicks off on July 26.