Brian Banks emerged from a living nightmare when he was freed after spending five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Exonerated on charges of rape and freed from jail on May 24th, the former prep star announced he planned on pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks and their head coach Pete Carroll were the first to bring Banks in for a workout. Reported interest from several other teams followed, including the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers.
While it's impossible to deny the power of Banks' story, it's hard for me not to wonder how much these teams, especially the Seahawks and their media-savvy head coach, are genuinely interested in finding out how Banks could potentially help their team and how much they are hoping the goodwill generated from their involvement in his return to society helps cast their team in a good light.
The young man is pursuing his dream—and that's a wonderful thing. But I have trouble believing that after spending five years in prison, after five years of being completely cut off from any kind of football activity, he will be able to show enough of anything on the football field for a general manager to makes an honest case for his inclusion on an NFL roster.
Maybe the expansion of offseason rosters to 90 players will give Banks a shot at coming into training camp with someone, and maybe in that time and setting he will be able to do enough to show that he belongs. But he's essentially competing against a few thousand other young men who have been working on their games non-stop the entire time he's been away.
I hope teams really do see something in him, and I hope he proves me wrong, makes a team and contributes to the NFL in some way.
Even if Brian Banks never participates in a single training camp drill, his story is a triumph.