Brian Banks Will Make the Atlanta Falcons Roster to Complete His Epic Journey

Scott CarasikContributor IIMay 12, 2013

May 4, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons linebacker Brian Banks (53) runs through a drill at Falcons Rookie Camp at the Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Brian Banks will complete his odyssey from wronged man stuck behind bars in prison to an NFL roster spot in the 2013 season.

At first, Banks' story reminds people of what happened to Sisyphus in Grecian mythology. Sisyphus was the man who thought he was more clever than the gods. He had played games with gods from Thanatos to Hermes after violating Zeus' laws.

So when he finally got put to his eternal rest and led across the river Styx into hell, Zeus drummed up the punishment to have him push a boulder up the hill, and once he could finally get it to the pinnacle, he would have finished his task.

However, Zeus revealed that he was more clever than Sisyphus with how he enchanted the boulder to be too much for Sisyphus to carry once he got to the top of the hill. So it would then roll back to the bottom creating an excessively futile task—much like Zeus' initial attempts to punish Sisyphus.

While he wasn't continually rolling a boulder repeatedly up a hill, the task of attempting to join an NFL roster must have felt similar. The almost Herculean task of even getting into an NFL training camp—something reserved for just 2,880 men in the country—was looking like Banks' own boulder. 

Instead, Banks' journey is much closer to what Odysseus experienced in Homer's Odyssey. Much like The Odyssey, there was a light at the end of the tunnel for the 6'2", 250-pound linebacker. He had the talent to get recruited by Pete Carroll at USC in his junior year of high school. 

Banks always had the ability to be a great player and would have compared to former Falcon Curtis Lofton had he stayed on the same progression coming out of college. He's going to be used as a thumper, much like Lofton was used.

Banks' experience of going to prison for something he never did for a five-year term is similar to how Calypso trapped Odysseus on her island for seven years for slaughtering Helios' scared cattle. Once he was finally free, he finally made his way back home to the island of Ithaca and his wife Penelope.

In Banks' case, he made his way to the NFL and back to his love—football. He has many things working to his advantage and has made an impression on both the coaching staff and his fellow players during rookie minicamps.


The Falcons don't have much competition for him

When it comes to roster depth for the Falcons at linebacker, there isn't much after the starters of Stephen Nicholas, Sean Weatherspoon and Akeem Dent. While, yes, Pat Schiller and Robert James were with the Falcons last season, the Falcons have essentially five undrafted rookies and James competing for three spots.

Paul Worrilow, Nick Clancy, Schiller and James all look to be competing on the outside for a roster spot. That leaves Brian Banks tom compete with Joplo Bartu for the backup role behind Dent in the middle of the 4-3 base.

Despite being in prison and fighting this battle for almost the past decade, Atlanta is showing a ton of trust that Banks should be able to earn the spot. He's definitely a good fit long-term, and he could eventually start with the proper training and fresh legs.


After a while, Banks could end up the starter

Now that he is finally back in football shape, the Falcons could end up using Banks as the starting middle linebacker if there's an injury to either Nicholas, Weatherspoon or  Dent. The Falcons love his ability to play in their multiple defenses, and at 27, he doesn't have much mileage on his frame.

Dent is no guarantee to start for Atlanta, and neither is Nicholas. The Falcons could very easily move Dent to the strong-side linebacker role. However, they'd have to make sure he could handle all three downs and cover tight ends.

That, or the Falcons should have multiple packages. In base defenses, running with Banks and Dent would give Atlanta much better run defense and could help an Achilles' heel from the 2012 season. When they run the 3-4 sets, that's where the addition of the large-framed Banks could make a big difference.

But since he's a low-mileage 27-year-old linebacker, the Falcons could easily train him over the next year or two to be the starter at middle linebacker. In doing this, they could make it to where Dent takes over the role that Nicholas currently has. But starting is something that would be much further on the horizon.

In the end, Brian Banks' story will look more like the story of Odysseus than the story of Sisyphus. He's finally with Penelope, and the Falcons have their own version of an epic hero.


All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs