Nate Ebner has devoted a high percentage of his life to his body. Over years of football and rugby training, he has put the necessary muscle on his frame to deliver and withstand big hits while remaining fast and agile. He has spent the last two offseasons rehabbing, trying to make sure he’s where he should be physically when the next season comes around.
Now the Patriots special teamer is healthy and can enjoy the things that had been back-burnered. But the 31-year-old Ebner has to make sure his body doesn’t betray him in a different way: By making it impossible to fit into pants.
“My whole life, it’s been like I’m kind of a large in the waist and stuff but I have to wear extra-large stuff because it doesn’t fit my legs,” said Ebner, who is listed by the Patriots as standing 6 feet tall and weighing 215 pounds. “And then you’re wearing baggy clothes. Same thing with your chest and then your stomach; it’s like you’re wearing an apron.”
Ebner was speaking from the Bonobos Guideshop in the Back Bay, having partnered with the menswear brand this year after discovering that its “athletic fit” clothes actually fit him.
Bonobos makes clothes in several fits that run across standard sizes so that customers can buy clothes designed for their bodies without going to a tailor.
Ebner always gravitated toward athletic gear, or anything with an elastic waistband, because of the fit. He likes to dress well, but that ambition stopped short of being willing to get every item of casual clothing professionally tailored, which some teammates do. When he’d go out, many excursions were prefaced by the same question posed to his wife: “Do I need to change for this?”
“I think all guys in my kind of lane, whether it be rugby or football, you can’t find clothes that fit you because your chest and shoulders are way bigger than your waist relative to most people and your thighs are way bigger relative to your waistline,” Ebner said. “I think that’s just a problem all athletes have. And then people outside of being athletes just who are bulkier people, it’s definitely a common theme.”
It’s a good time for Ebner to revamp his wardrobe (and do brand partnerships).
He’s about to become a free agent, and while he has said he’d prefer to re-sign with New England if there’s a contract that makes sense for him, he knows that’s a big caveat that’s mostly outside his control.
In the meantime, he has filled his days skiing at Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and just getting out to “bop around a little bit.” He’ll golf when it gets warmer. He’s training to keep his body where it needs to be for next season, but he has a lot more free time than he did after the 2017 season when he was rehabbing from ACL surgery or 2018 when he was rehabbing again after getting his knee scoped to clean up scar tissue that developed because he played so soon in the initial recovery process.
“The past years, it’s been rehab, rehab, rehab,” Ebner said. “So to be able to go out and do things . . . I’ll try to make the most of that.”
In the store, Ebner pointed out some of his favorite items: Bright swim trunks covered in multicolored palm trees; a light blue button-down shirt patterned with tiny, darker blue pineapples; golf shirts; and, of course, short-shorts.
The rugby player in Ebner — he went to the 2016 Olympics as a member of the US team — is staunchly pro short-shorts. But this opinion too is grounded in the fact that, with the athletic fit, they come with enough room in the butt and thighs to be comfortable and look right.
He thinks the football crowd, and beyond, will embrace rising hemlines. Julian Edelman, Ebner pointed out, “definitely loves short-shorts.”
“I think from a fashion standpoint, when people are wearing shorts out in the springtime, they’re not down to the knees anymore,” Ebner said.
Ebner gravitates toward simple, classic designs that come with a little twist. The first piece of clothing he remembers really loving was a rugby jersey from high school. It was blue with yellow stripes down the side and black shoulders, with logo patches placed in a way he liked. While the NFL is strict about uniform design and game-worn gear, rugby jerseys are unique, and Ebner loved that jersey because he knew no one else had it.
It makes some sense, then, why he likes the pieces he does. The blue button-down shirt with the pineapples would look like any other blue button-down from across a room, but up close it has a differentiating detail.