Jarryd Hayne -- the rugby star who attempted to make the transition to the NFL -- has ended his career with the San Francisco 49ers after only one season because he was given the chance to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
"I am retiring from the NFL because the Fiji Rugby Sevens team reached out to me about the opportunity to join the team for the upcoming Olympics, and I simply could not pass that chance up," Hayne said in a statement. "The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL."
Hayne, 28, signed with the 49ers in March 2015, and made an immediate impression with his new teammates in offseason training before winning over fans in preseason with some bruising highlights at running back. But the regular season didn't go as smoothly for Hayne, and he was waived in October and placed on the practice squad.
He was elevated to the active roster again for the last couple games of the season and finished the year with 17 attempts for 52 yards. But many expected Hayne to take a significant jump in his second NFL season, including 49ers executive Paraag Marathe. Instead, Hayne's career is over after just one season.
"The support and understanding from the 49ers organization was unbelievable when I let them know about my decision to pursue another dream," Hayne said. "The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible. I could not have predicted how far I have come as an NFL player. To not only be able to play in a game but also say that I started a game in the NFL is something that I will remember for a lifetime."
Rugby sevens is a new addition to the slate of sports at the Olympics and hasn't been played in the event since the 1924 Summer Olympics. Hayne has a Fijian father and Australian mother, and has represented both countries in international rugby competition.