Yesterday, there was a story about Leroy Kelly Jr. receiving a tryout for the Cleveland Browns after he previously received a tryout from them four years ago. What about another player who was denied an opportunity at football for a decade due to being falsely accused of rape?
This does not have to do with the Browns, but after reading this article on ESPN about Brian Banks, I felt compelled to post about it. At age 16 back in the year 2002, Banks was a high school star who was being recruited to USC on a full scholarship by then-coach Pete Carroll. It wasn't long afterward that Banks' life went into a downward spiral.
On a summer day that year, he and a girl named Wanetta Gibson decided to go make out in a stairwell at school. When they came out, she accused him of rape. No semen traces in the rape kit. No witnesses. And yet Banks' attorney insisted he cop a plea, saying his size, age and race would mean a sure conviction of 40-plus years. He said no, no, a hundred times no and finally, reluctantly, yes.
Banks got six years. He served 62 months. When he got out, he had to wear a GPS ankle bracelet at all times. He had to register as a convicted sex felon. Couldn't go near schools, parks or zoos. Couldn't get a job. He was lucky to get a few hours a week unloading docks. What did Gibson get? A $750,000 settlement from the school.
Banks' nightmare finally ended last week.
A judge in Long Beach, Calif., threw out his kidnapping and rape conviction last week after looking at a videotape of his accuser admitting she lied. After 10 years, he was suddenly a free and innocent man.
The article is worth the read for Banks' excitement, and the fact that he is more focused on returning to football than seeking revenge on his accuser. It has to say something about his potential that even though he never got to play a down of college football, and that his conviction was just overturned a week ago, that he has been contacted by several NFL teams for a tryout.
Right now, the three teams that will be giving him a tryout include the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Seattle Seahawks. The Miami Dolphins were originally going to give him a tryout, but have since passed on the opportunity. Banks might have the best chance to land in Seattle, where Carroll, the man who recruited him to USC, is the team's head coach. I'm not sure what position Banks would be trying out for, but he has some nice measurables:
Like … dead-lift 545 pounds, box jump 55 inches flat-footed, broad jump 10-plus feet and run a 4.6 40, all at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds. NFL trainer Gavin Macmillan, who has volunteered to train Banks for free, says he has a shot. "You see him run and you can see why USC wanted him."
Do you see Banks being a player you could really get behind and root for if he makes it in the NFL?