Brian Banks Signed by the Atlanta Falcons


Brian Banks Signed by the Atlanta Falcons

This story began over six years ago.  Brian Banks was a football star at Long Beach Polytechnic High School.  He was going to USC with a full scholarship to play linebacker for Pete Carroll’s Trojans.

Then came the worst day of his life.  He was accused of raping a female classmate.  He knew he was innocent, but his attorney told him that the jury would not believe a large, young black man, and that if he plead guilty, he may get a lenient sentence.  He capitulated, but it didn’t work.  The judge gave him a 5 year sentence.

Last year the young woman was caught on tape admitting that everything was a lie.  After suffering through more than 5 years of incarceration, Banks was free.  But what of his dream to be a Professional Football player?

He was given a tryout by the Seattle Seahawks, now coached by Pete Carroll, among other teams.  He had lost his quickness, his instinct, and was not signed.

This year is different.  His work paid off.  He has been signed by the Atlanta Falcons.

“Aside from getting my life back and my freedom back, this is the biggest accomplishment of my life,” the 27 year old Banks told reporters during a conference call.

As he signed his contract Wednesday, he wore a tee shirt with a California license plate that said “XONR8.”

“We are pleased to have Brian join our team,” said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “We had a chance to work him out last year and have been monitoring his progress since then. He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity. We are happy that Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL, and we look forward to seeing him on the field.”

The 6 foot 2 inch Banks, who weighs 250 pounds will be given a chance to fight for a position.  He spoke positively of his feelings.

“It’s almost impossible to explain, the feeling of not having freedom, to be stripped away of your freedom, of your dignity, the respect you once had,” he said. “To lose it all and watch the world pass you by as you sit inside a prison cell, knowing you shouldn’t be there, knowing you’re there because of another person’s lies, to lose it all and then get it all back, it’s a very humbling, spiritual feeling that you just don’t want to take anything for granted.  “I’ve had the opportunity to see both sides of the human spirit. … My journey has been crazy but my journey has been a learning experience that is unlike any other.”

I’ll look forward to watching him in September.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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