Full Scale Sports

The Long Road For Brian Banks

ATLANTA — It may be preseason, but for many young players vying for a roster spot, it is a crucial time of their NFL careers.

With Atlanta Falcons linebacker Brian Banks, it’s a conclusion to a dream that once seemed impossible to obtain.

Back in 2002, while playing for Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California, Banks had verbally committed to play college football at USC. With a standout high school career and a verbal commitment to a top college football program in the country, Banks seemed well on his way to fulfilling his dream of playing in the NFL.

His dream, however, got derailed. In shocking fashion.

In the summer of 2002, Banks was arrested and charged after classmate Wanetta Gibson said that he dragged her into a stairway at Polytechnic High School and raped her. Faced with the possibility of serving up to 41 years to life, Banks chose to accept a plea deal to serve five years in prison, five years probation, and be registered as a sex offender.

Gibson and her mother sued the Long Beach Unified School District following the plea, winning a $1.5 million settlement.

While Gibson had won her settlement, Banks was in prison, serving a five year sentence for rape.

A crime, it turned out, he never committed.

In March of 2011, Gibson reconnected with Banks on Facebook and met with him. While meeting with Banks, Gibson acknowledged that she fabricated her story.

While admitting this, Banks was secretly recording the conversation with Gibson.

With the tape of Gibson’s confession of fabricating her story, and help from California Innocence Project attorneys, Los Angeles County prosecutors overturned Banks’s conviction on May 24, 2012.

After having his conviction overturned, Banks chose to chase his dream he once had while starring in high school a decade ago. Banks wanted to pursue a chance to play professional football.

In September 2012, Banks reached an agreement with the Las Vegas Locomotives, a team from the UFL. In two games, Banks recorded just one tackle. The league was suspended in October.

Despite another bump in the road, Banks did not give up. He continued to work out, hoping for his chance to earn a spot in the NFL.

On April 3, his dream finally came true.

Banks reached a deal with the Atlanta Falcons, and would be practicing with them for the upcoming season, in hopes to land a spot on the team as an inside linebacker.

It may just be preseason for the fans and many others, but for Brian Banks, who made his NFL debut Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, it is much more than that.

It was overcoming a terrible bump in the road to obtain his NFL dream.



Follow Brandon Boles on Twitter: @BrandonBoles


Twitter: @FullScaleSport

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