Atlanta Falcons Sign Linebacker Brian Banks



 After serving five years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, former high school football star Brian Banks will finally have the chance to live out hisNFL dream. According to NFL insiderJay Glazer, the Atlanta Falcons have signed the linebacker to a contract, and the Falcons later confirmed the news. 

 Banks was falsely accused of raping and kidnapping a high school classmate in 2002 and served a five-year jail sentence as well as four years of probation before being exonerated last year, according to Jaime Uribarri of the New York Daily News.  60 Minutes also did a profile of the young man a few weeks ago.

Banks had a number of NFL tryouts last year before ultimately signing with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL. 

The Falcons obviously saw something in the former prep star, so he will now have an opportunity to play at the NFL level. Banks worked out for the Seattle SeahawksSan Francisco 49ersSan Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs last year, and while none of those teams offered him a contract, he was undeterred.

After what Banks has gone through over the past decade or so, it should come as no surprise that his perseverance has led him to this point.

 Banks will get a chance to make a team that was one win from the Super Bowl last season. Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

 Banks almost certainly would be well into his NFL career by now if not for his wrongful jail stint. But now he’s playing catch-up due to the fact that he missed part of his high school career and never had the opportunity to play college ball at USC, which is where he verbally committed.

Banks is still only 27 years old, though, and his talent is undeniable. The 2012 UFL season was cut short due to financial issues, so Banks was unable to show NFL teams what he could do in game situations, but the Falcons were intrigued enough to give him a shot.

There is no guarantee that Banks will make the team, but getting the chance to do so is something that seemed nearly impossible even a few years ago.