Atlanta Falcons Sign Falsely Imprisoned High School Football Star Brian Banks

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

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 his NFL dream.

NFL insider Jay Glazer originally reported that the Atlanta Falcons had signed the linebacker to a contract, and the team later confirmed the news. 

Jay Glazer @JayGlazer

Gang, I'm reporting the best scoop I could ever report: my man FINALLY has his dream back: Falcons have just signed @BrianBanksFREE!!!!

The signing comes just 10 days after 60 Minutes aired a feature on Banks, detailing the young man's false imprisonment after being accused of raping and kidnapping a high school classmate in 2002. Banks ended up serving a five-year jail sentence and four years of probation before being exonerated last year, according to Jaime Uribarri of the New York Daily News.

The linebacker 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 Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, San 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 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, the school he verbally committed to. 

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 had obviously seen enough to give him a shot.

There is no guarantee that Banks will make the team, but just getting the chance to do so has to feel good for a man that had the best years of his life taken away from him. 

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