Thursday, February 07, 2019

Third NFL title special to former Ohio State player Nate Ebner

New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner talks to reporters during a media availability for for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch 
Posted Feb 5, 2019 at 9:21 PM
Nate Ebner rode in a Super Bowl victory parade through the streets of Boston on Tuesday.
“There were more than a million people there,” the Hilliard Davidson and Ohio State graduate said. “It was insane.”
It was Ebner’s third such celebration in his seven years with the New England Patriots. In some ways, it might have been the most meaningful.
Ebner, a special-teams player, tore a ligament in his right knee late in the 2017 season. He returned to action only eight months after his surgery. He wasn’t at 100 percent throughout the season, but he persevered.
“It was a tough year, but I made it out alive,” he quipped.
For Ebner, it was just another chapter in his unlikely career. Growing up, he played rugby not football (and he represented the United States in the 2016 Olympics). He decided to walk on to Ohio State’s football team and earned a scholarship his senior season.
New England made him a sixth-round draft pick, and he has been an important cog on the Patriots’ three championship teams in the last five years.
“My first one was awesome because it was my first one,” Ebner said. “The second one was special, too, because special teams played a pretty big role in that Atlanta game and it was amazing to be part of that comeback (from a 28-3 deficit).
“This year, the way we have been counted out more than ever, and the lack of belief from people who used to say they were with us, that made this one special. With the way our season went, along with me coming back from such a major injury last year, made this one extremely special for me.”
His teammates voted him this year’s recipient of the Ed Block Award, which honors sportsmanship and courage.
The Super Bowl was considered an aesthetic dud because of both teams’ offensive struggles in New England’s 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. In his role, Ebner found plenty of beauty in it.
“I thought special teams played a big role,” he said. “Ryan Allen did great job with his punting — three kicks inside the 7. It’s hard to score touchdowns when you have to go 90-plus yards.”
Ebner got to share the latest Super Bowl win with one of his former Buckeyes teammates. Defensive end John Simon joined the Patriots this year after the Colts released him.
“John’s a great guy for this team,” Ebner said. “John doesn’t say a whole lot, but does the job really well. He’s had some ups and downs throughout his career as far as teams putting him in weird spots and a couple of health things.
“I’m so happy for him that he got to experience the top of the top after what he’s dealt with in his career.”
Simon’s wife, Brittany, gave birth to their second son the week before the Super Bowl.
“They’ve had quite the two weeks,” Ebner said.
It culminated for Simon and Ebner with the Super Bowl victory and Tuesday parade.
“That stuff is always fun,” Ebner said. “It’s been a good, fortunate seven years for me.”

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