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The New England Patriots named former Eagle Nate Ebner the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award Thursday. The honor is bestowed annually upon an inspirational player from each team who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship. He and the other 31 recipients will receive their award at a ceremony in March in Baltimore, where the namesake of the trophy worked as an athletic trainer for the Colts.
Ebner is in his seventh season in the NFL, having been taken in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. He earned second-team All-Pro honors as a special teamer in 2016, was limited to just nine games last season, and has returned to full-time action in 2018. He and the Patriots await the highest-seeded winner from the AFC's two wildcard games this weekend.
In 2016, Ebner famously missed offseason activities with the Patriots to play for the Eagles in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the Olympics, becoming the seventh NFL player to participate in the Games. Ebner grew up watching his father play rugby in suburban Ohio, became an age-grade star for USA Rugby, Ohio State's best player in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, and walked onto the Buckeye football team having not played gridiron since little league.