With Osgar Absent, New York Faces More Questions Defending Title

April 15, 2024
By Callum Ng

Just days after losing reigning MVP Jeff Babbitt to Boston, the New York Empire will likely be without 2022 MVP Ryan Osgar for at least the start of the 2024 season. 

In his weekly Tuesday Toss, Evan Lepler reported that Osgar is thinking about taking a season off due to a lack of motivation. The 31 year-old did leave a morsel of hope on the table for Empire fans, “Excited to fill my time with other things, but I reserve the right to regret my decision and come back and play at any point.”

You have to appreciate the vulnerability in how he described his current state. 

“Just not feeling excited or motivated for the season, so I’m not gonna force myself to play,” said Osgar.

The emotional and physical demands of professional ultimate are high. Players sacrifice hundreds of hours during the spring and summer for practices, games, and travel. The Empire have played until late summer in each of the past three seasons, and Osgar missed only three games over that time; since his college days at Minnesota nearly a decade ago, Osgar has played on a semifinals-level or better team virtually every season.

Osgar joins a now extensive list of professional athletes who have taken time off from their sport for various reasons. In 2021, Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka stepped away from tennis and referenced depression as the reason.  

That same year, Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from events at the Tokyo Olympics to prioritize her health. Last summer, NBA veteran Ricky Rubio announced he was taking a break from basketball to focus on his mental health.  

Back on the field, it’s definitely a double shock to the defending champions to imagine a world without Osgar throwing dimes to a sprinting Babbitt.

Osgar is a precision thrower and led New York in total yards and assists during the past three seasons. He also has the intangible effect of calming down the offense whenever he has the frisbee. He makes really difficult throws look easy, and for a New York squad that has played in more high stakes situations than any other team over the last three seasons, Osgar has been their chosen archer.

Even following Babbitt’s surprising decision, and an up-in-the-air Osgar, New York’s roster remains packed with talent. Jack Williams has over 5,000 total yards in each of the past three seasons. Ben Jagt has had multiple 60-plus goal seasons and two MVPs of his own. Still, the Empire will need big performances from O-line starters like Elliott and Oliver Chartock, Solomon Rueschemeyer-Bailey, Charles Weinberg, and new addition and 2023 All Rookie First Team member Liam Haberfield after losing their two best offensive players.

In August of last year New York won their second title in a row and some wondered when their dominant 30-game winning streak would ever come to an end. Without Osgar and Babbitt, every game – including their home opener against Montreal on April 27 on opening weekend – will be more intriguing with the rest of the UFA taking their shot at the defending champions.