You might’ve heard Brian Banks’ story before. In 2002, Banks pleaded no contest to rape and spent five years and two months in jail on the advice of his lawyer, despite no DNA evidence and Banks’ complete innocence of the charge. From his release from jail through early last year, he had been on probation and wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle. But due to his accuser, 15-year-old Wanetta Gibson, admitting to falsely accusing Banks, he was exonerated of all charges this past May. At the time of the original accusation, Banks was a linebacker at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California and verbally committed to USC.
Banks is 27 years old now, years of his life wiped away by the words of a 15-year-old girl. At the time of his release, he was apparently trying to get back into football and hoping to earn a spot on an NFL team. Today, Banks is one step closer to realizing that dream, signing with the Atlanta Falcons to participate in offseason activities with the team. Last year, Pete Carroll, his would-be head coach at USC, gave him a chance with the Seahawks, with whom he participated in minicamp. He also received tryouts from the Chiefs and Chargers. He ended up with the United Football League’s Las Vegas Locomotives, appearing in two games before league play was suspended.
Of course there’s no guarantee he’ll make the final 53-man roster, but if there’s anyone to root for among fringe NFL players, it’s Brian Banks.