NFL ace Ebner abandons Olympic rugby bid

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NFL player Nate Ebner, who represented the USA at rugby in the 2016 Olympics, has abandoned his bid to make the squad for the Tokyo Games

NFL veteran Nate Ebner said Tuesday he has abandoned his bid to make the United States rugby sevens squad for next month's Olympics after failing to recover in time following offseason surgery.

The 32-year-old former New England Patriots defensive back, who played for the US at the 2016 Olympics, said he had struggled to regain fitness in time for the Tokyo Games.

"It pains me to announce my withdrawal from competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics with the USA Men's Sevens," Ebner said in a statement.

"After the 2020 NFL season, I had an injury that required off-season surgery. While my recovery is on track for the next football season, unfortunately the timetables did not align with trials for the Games."

Ebner, a talented rugby player since his youth, joined the New York Giants last year after an eight-season stint with the Patriots which included three Super Bowl victories.

Although currently a free agent, he is expected to be offered a new deal by the Giants for the 2021 seasons.

USA sevens head coach Mike Friday said Ebner's decision had been taken with the player's long-term health in mind.

"We are all disappointed for Nate and appreciative of his efforts to rejoin the squad and make a run for Tokyo," Friday said.

"Physically, Nate has not had the opportunity to compete, therefore he cannot be considered for selection to the Olympics.

"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."

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