NFL Players to Compete at Rio Olympics

Nate Ebner recently signed a new two-year contract with the New England Patriots

A current Patriot and former Lion competes in Rio later this summer.

Jahvid Best, who scored nine touchdowns in two NFL seasons as a run-catch dual threat out of the Detroit Lions backfield before a concussion cut his career short, competes for St. Lucia, his father’s home country, in track and field. The former first-round pick runs the 100-meter dash in Rio.

New England Patriots special-teams player Nate Ebner represents the United States on its rugby team at the Olympics. Ebner did not play football in high school and competed at Ohio State only as a walk-on. Bill Belichick gave his blessing to Ebner focusing on rugby during this offseason. “I can’t put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and family as well,” Ebner told ESPN in late winter. “I plan to represent the Patriots and our country to the best of my ability. Thanks again and Go Pats and go USA.”

San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne retired from the NFL after only one season to play for Fiji’s rugby sevens at the Olympics but he didn’t make the cut. “As much as I would have loved to go to Rio, I too knew I wasn’t ready yet,” Hayne wrote on his Facebook page. “During my time with the team, I pushed my body above and beyond. I used all my experience as a professional athlete and have tried everyday and in every way possible to make this team and make it better but unfortunately, time has been against me.”

Numerous NFL players, including Jim Thorpe, Bob Hayes, and Tommie Smith, enjoyed Olympic gold before competing in the league. But competing in the Olympics after or during an NFL career comes as something of a novelty.