Nate Ebner had a very valid excuse for not practicing with the New England Patriots this morning—he is preparing for his first Olympic rugby match in Rio.
To show his support for Ebner, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wore a USA Rugby shirt to practice with Ebner’s name on the back.
Ebner, a safety who helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX, is taking a leave from offseason football workouts to compete at the Olympics. The first U.S. men’s rugby match is today at noon ET. Once Ebner steps on the pitch, he will become the first active NFL player to compete at a Summer Olympics.
Belichick told the Associated Press that “we’re pulling for him to bring back something around his neck.”