It might not quite reach the level of a happy ending, but it sure does provide a feel-good nature to an ugly story. Brian Banks, the former high school football star who had a rape conviction expunged last week when the accusers admitted she lied 10 years ago, has gotten interests from several NFL teams that willing to give him an opportunity to make reality his dream of playing pro football.
Banks spent five years in prison and the following five years struggling for steady work — until his accuser admitted he did not rape her in a California Poly High School classroom a decade ago. It was that admission that led a judge to dismiss all charges against the one-time standout linebacker who had accepted a scholarship to play football at USC.
With his story national news, Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly reports that Banks, 26, will workout with the Seattle Seahawks, on June 7. The Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins have also contacted him about a tryout.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did not speak following the Seahawks’ off-season workout on Wednesday, but the team confirmed the tryout.
“I’ll make ’em happy,” Banks, who’s been training non-stop since October, told Reilly on Tuesday. “After all I’ve been through these last 10 years, I can still do some things that will impress you.”
His college football dreams ended, however, when he pleaded no contest to a childhood friend’s false accusation of rape in 2002, a claim she now has recanted. He pleaded guilty because the written law indicated he could spend life in prison if found guilt at trial.
Upon his release from prison and before his exoneration last week, Banks had trouble finding work because he had to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, was a registered sex offender and had a felony record. His lawyer, Justin Brooks, has said Banks has been training six days a week to get in shape for a career in football.
“He has the speed and the strength,” Brooks said. “He certainly has the heart. I hope he gets the attention of people in the sports world.”
Banks also has received job offers outside the NFL, including an opportunity “to work in the front office and explore other sports opportunities” for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Banks told Reilly.
“I about fell out of my seat when I read that one,” he said.