It wasn't supposed to take 10 years, but the former high school standout and USC recruit's dreams of playing in the NFL were derailed when he was falsely accused of rape by a classmate. After ten years of court proceedings, five of which were spent in jail, Brian Banks became a free man and immediately focused on fighting for his dream of playing NFL football. Banks signed with the UFL in September, 2012 and was invited to Atlanta's training camp this summer.
After all that, Banks finally made is NFL debut last night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It was out of control,” Banks said, via Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Just running out there — the flames, the cheers, the crowd. I wasn’t nervous at all but just the emotion of running through the tunnel, the adrenalin that comes with it, is better than any rollercoaster ride you could get on.”
Banks made a couple of tackles during his brief appearance and he remains a long shot to wind up on the team’s 53-man roster. Banks then showed off his remarkable ability to find a bright side when asked if he needed to make the team to consider his efforts a success. “Do I have to make it?” Banks said.
“I don’t feel like I have to, but I want to — not just for myself but for my family, for the people who’ve supported me and believed in me. For people who’ve lost hope in their own [life]. If I can be some kind of vessel, to show people that no matter the hard time you experienced, you can still succeed, I want to put out that positive energy, to never quit and never give up.”
Banks' attitude is extremely rare and an incredible source of inspiration for anyone going through difficult times. Though he is unlikely to make the Falcons, his courage and mental fortitude would be a good presence in any NFL locker room.