Brian Banks Continues Road To Redemption In Atlanta
Days are continually becoming brighter for new Falcons and former high school prep star Brian Banks. He is finally living his dream of becoming a player in the NFL after being falsely charged with committing rape 10 years ago, a scandalous outcome that derailed his opportunity to play college football at USC. However, Banks was finally cleared of all charges last year when it was reported that Wanetta Gibson, the alleged victim, admitted to falsely accusing Banks. According to ESPN, Gibson must now pay $2.6 million to the Long Beach Unified School District, part of which comes from her $750,000 settlement from the district.
Once his name was cleared, Banks set out on the road to redemption, trying out for four NFL teams and playing in the UFL before finally receiving a chance from the Falcons in April.
Banks has a chance to make the Falcons and possibly even start at one of the three linebacker positions in the team's 4-3 defensive scheme. In fact, Banks ran the first team defense during rookie mini-camp as a middle linebacker.
"It was real good [today] to get out there," Banks said of his experience at the Falcons’ rookie mini-camp to reporters in attendence. "To get a chance to get out there and put all the knowledge that we've been putting on paper out onto the field was a really good experience for the first time.”
The biggest knock on Brian Banks is that we do not have enough stats to determine how good he really is or how good he can be for a sputtering Atlanta defense. I could not locate any of his high school stats, but he did run a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash and lifted a maximum of 240 lbs. Banks ran a 4.75 at a Seahawks tryout last year, and Falcons GM Thomas Dimtritroff mentioned that he can run the 40 in the 4.8 range. Combine that speed with a 6-1, 250-pound frame and an eagerness to learn and you have created a linebacker ready for the NFL in Banks.
We can’t ignore his lack of a solid professional football resume though. Banks only played in two professional football games, each for the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives, where he recorded only one tackle. I personally believe that people should take his UFL stats out of the equation since league play was suspended last October and he did not have that many games to work with.
Despite having no college football experience and only two professional games under his belt, Banks will still make noise for the Falcons this year because of his redemption story and his drive to make it to the grand stage. His ability to learn the defense quickly already shows that he has the ability to transform Atlanta’s defense into an elite unit. But Banks' story, especially after he makes the final cut and starts making plays during the regular season, will transcend the sports world. Heck, it will even have the potential to become movie material because Banks embodies the notion of making good on second chances. Banks can show that building your way from the bottom through hard work and perseverance is still a prevalent part of the American way.
Atlanta, it is time to root for your new hero: No. 53. I sincerely hope that Brian Banks will continue to grow into both a solid linebacker and a role model for the falsely accused.