From prison to the NFL: Exonerated Brian Banks signs deal with Falcons

Updated
FILE - This May 24, 2012 file photo shows Brian Banks weeping after his rape conviction was dismissed in court, in Long Beach, Calif. Banks has signed with...
FILE - This May 24, 2012 file photo shows Brian Banks weeping after his rape conviction was dismissed in court, in Long Beach, Calif. Banks has signed with...
AP Photo/Nick Ut, File

Brian Banks spent nearly a decade of his life with label of “sex offender” hanging over his head, and even spent time in jail, all for a crime he never committed. Newly exonerated, he now has a shot to win a spot on the Atlanta Falcons after signing a deal with the NFL team on Wednesday.

“Aside from getting my life back and my freedom back, this is the biggest accomplishment of my life, but it is also just the beginning,” he told reporters.

For Banks, it’s been a long road to this point.

A football star in high school, he had made a verbal commitment to play in college when his career was derailed by a childhood friend’s false rape allegations. He struck a plea deal that put him in jail for five years and on probation for another five. Later his accuser recanted the story and admitted there was no rape.

Banks joined PoliticsNation the day after his exoneration, describing how he felt that day. A man who could easily be bitter over the years he lost, Banks instead felt blessed.

“I’m glad to be free,” he said. “I’m just very happy.”

He also knew what he wanted to do next.

“My dreams are to play football,” he told Rev. Sharpton. “I’m ready to take on some tryouts in the NFL.”

As he acknowledged Wednesday, his deal with the Falcons may be a big step toward achieving the future, but not the ultimate step. He still must make the team.

“This is just the beginning to a long road to making that next step and making that 53-man roster,” Banks said Wednesday. “I am here to work like everybody else. The result of my hard work will be whatever they deem necessary. All I can do is do my best and however it turns out will be. I thank God for the opportunity.”

From prison to the NFL: Exonerated Brian Banks signs deal with Falcons

Updated