Nate Ebner made Olympic history, becoming the first active NFL player to compete at a Summer Olympics.
Ebner, who helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX, stepped onto the pitch for USA Rugby for the first time during the second half of the match against Argentina on Tuesday afternoon.
Both U.S. tries came with Ebner on the pitch, but Argentina scored on the final play of the match to win 17-14. The U.S. was awarded a penalty try when an Argentinian defender used a high tackle to stop Zack Test from touching the ball down, and then Danny Barrett scored the first try in U.S. Olympic men’s rugby sevens history.
Ebner is taking a leave from offseason football workouts to compete at the Olympics. He has the support of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who told the Associated Press that “we’re pulling for him to bring back something around his neck.”
Belichick even wore a USA Rugby shirt to practice this morning with Ebner’s name on the back.
The U.S. will return to the pitch tonight at 5:00 p.m. ET against Brazil.
Other NFL players have competed at the Summer Games, but it was before they made their professional football debuts. At the 2012 Olympics, Marquise Goodwin competed for the U.S. as a long jumper before lining up for the Buffalo Bills as a wide receiver.
Herschel Walker became an Olympian after playing in the NFL, but it was at the Winter Olympics as a bobsledder.
Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is expected to become the first retired NFL player to compete at a Summer Olympics. He is schedule to run the 100m for Saint Lucia beginning on August 13.