NFL Players Make History: Nate Ebner, Jahvid Best Will Compete at the Rio Olympics


This summer, two NFL players will trying to go from the gridiron to a gold medal.

Current New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner and former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best are both set to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio after being named to Olympic teams in rugby sevens and track, respectively

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Ebner became the first active NFL player to compete in the Summer Olympics when he was named to the USA Rugby Men’s Sevens team on Monday. The former Ohio State All-American rugby player took a leave of absence from the Patriots to train for the Olympics, and is planning to re-join the NFL squad once the rugby competition is over.

Best—who will compete in the 100-meter dash—became the first former NFL player to compete in the Summer Games after he was named to the Caribbean island team on Saturday. The University of California product is an American citizen, but his father holds dual citizenship in St. Lucia and the United States, earning him eligibility there.

“This is a huge accomplishment for me, but at the same time this is just the beginning,” Best told NBC Sports. “I have only been in this sport for two years professionally, and plan on being around for a long time.”

Best played two seasons for the Lions before retiring due to concussion issues. Previously, he was a high school track star at Salesian High School in Richmond, California. The 27-year-old met the Olympic qualifying standard for the track event after posting a 10.16-second time in the 100 meters at a meet on April 2.

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Along with Best and Ebner, three other current or former NFL players were competing for spots in Rio—Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, former San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne, and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps.

Goodwin, who previously represented the United States in the 2012 London Olympics in the long jump, did not qualify at the U.S. Olympic trials. Demps, who won a silver medal in the 4×100 relay at the 2012 Olympics, also did not qualify after being eliminated in the first round of the 100 meter event at the trials. Hayne, who previously played rugby before signing with the San Francisco 49ers, announced on Facebook that he was not named to the Fiji rugby sevens team for Rio.

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