Exonerated Football Player Brian Banks Makes It to the NFL
By Charles Odum
ATLANTA — Brian Banks said signing with the Atlanta Falcons is his second-biggest accomplishment. The biggest was Banks’ exoneration of rape charges one year ago. Banks, 27, signed with the Falcons on Wednesday, giving him an opportunity he said he did not believe would be possible when he spent five years in prison and five years on probation following his conviction of rape and kidnapping charges a decade ago. “I felt at the time in order for me to exit prison with a sane mind and be able to just function as a person I had to let go of certain dreams and goals I once held in life, football being one of them,” Banks said.
Banks said he “couldn’t have asked for a better place to be” than with the Falcons.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” he said. “It’s surreal.”
Banks was a 16-year-old junior and had made a verbal commitment to sign with Southern Cal when a Long Beach Poly high school classmate accused him of the rape.
The woman recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name after he was out of prison. That helped lead to the conviction being overturned by a California court and Banks’ record cleared on May 12, 2012.
The Falcons are the first NFL team to sign Banks, but he has had chances with other teams. He took part in the Seattle Seahawks’ minicamp last June following workouts with Kansas City and San Diego. He had one tackle in two games with Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League (UFL).