Memory of late father stokes Nate Ebner’s Olympic rugby quest

The wristband on Nate Ebner’s right arm bears a powerful message. “Finish Strong,” it says.

Ebner, 27, a special teams standout for the Patriots, already has a Super Bowl ring. Now he’s hoping to help the US team win an Olympic medal in rugby.


Long before he thought about stepping foot on the gridiron, Ebner was a rugby prodigy — a two-time MVP of the USA Rugby team at the Junior World Cup and an All-American at Ohio State. He did not play football until his junior year in college.


Representing the US at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, he says, “would be a dream come true,” and a great tribute to his father, who died in 2008.


On a late afternoon in Chula Vista, Ebner is dripping with sweat after the two-a-day cardio-laden workouts. Patriots practices were never this exhausting, he says, even in the dog days of August.


“You see how long we are running around out there? It’s no joke,” says Ebner. “I don’t know why I put myself through this pain. It’s so painful. See how tired everyone is?”

Players trudge up a hill to the dorms to shower. Ebner, a rookie of sorts, has to carry the blocking pads. But he’s not complaining.


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RB Alfred Morris eager for opportunity with Dallas Cowboys

Alfred Morris drove his 1991 Mazda 626 to Valley Ranch in Irving on Wednesday.


Though his belongings still are in storage in the Washington, D.C., area, Morris had the car he nicknamed “Bentley” transported to his new home in Dallas-Fort Worth. “I grew up in not the best of situations, so I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a car at graduation,” Morris said. “In college, I had to hitchhike, ride a bike or walk. I just wanted a car. I got tired of relying on other people.


“I got this one and took ownership of it, and it just reminds me of what it took to get to where I am today — a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of sacrifice. It reminds me of my struggles to get here.

“That’s my baby. Eventually, I will get another car. Who knows when eventually is.”

Morris has hitched his wagon to the star, signing an incentive-laden, two-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys last month. He could earn up to $5.5 million.


“We don’t have a problem earning our money,” Sean Stellato, Morris’ agent, said. “At the same time, we got some guarantees. I think what it really comes down to is the opportunity to put him in the best situation, and I feel his best football is ahead of him.


“…There’s something in the water down in Pensacola. The Cowboys had quite a good run with Emmitt [Smith], and Emmitt paved the way for Alfred to have big dreams coming out of Pensacola. It’s exciting to know that he’s going to a place where Emmitt became one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.”


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