Banks, a former Long Beach Polytechnic standout who drew the attention of many national programs, is finally getting a shot to live out his NFL dream after spending five years behind bars. Get ready, because his upcoming journey has a chance to become the league's next feel-good story.
An athlete looking to resurrect his career after a run-in with the law is typically polarizing (see Michael Vick). After all, when you do time, it's easy for those on the outside looking in to envision you in a prison jumpsuit for the remainder of your days on earth — whether deserved or not. But Banks' case is unique in that he was punished, and essentially lost 10 years of his life, for something he didn't do.
The former prep star served five years in prison and spent another five on parole after he pleaded no contest to rape in 2002. It turns out that Banks was falsely accused, though, as the purported victim came forward and stated that she fabricated the story.
Banks' conviction was thrown out last week, added to the trash pile right beside where many thought the former prep star's football aspirations lie. But instead, we're finding out that Banks' football dreams are far from the scrapheap. They've been tucked away in a safe place all these years.
A former USC recruit, Banks was accused of the crime in 2002. He is now 26 years old, two years shy of the average age at which an NFL player calls it quits. Yet, he's held onto hope; hope that wasn't limited to simply rejoining society as functional member after a tumultous period in his life.
Instead, Banks has higher aspirations; sky high at that. And whether it's his passion, the talent he once showed or a "what do we have to lose" approach, NFL teams are actually showing interest in the linebacker, meaning the possibility of him succeeding on the gridiron again is at least there — no matter how slim it may be.
The Seattle Seahawks are the first team to give Banks a shot — with head coach Pete Carroll bringing him in for a look on June 7 . But other teams, including the Chiefs and Dolphins, are reportedly believed to be interested in the now free man.
The fact that it's Carroll who decided to give Banks a shot first shouldn't come as much of a surprise, though. The former USC head man has always, albeit from a distance, kept a watchful eye on those he's coached and scouted in the past, even if they haven't exactly lived up to the lofty expectations that once accompanied them. His decision to bring in Mike Williams after the beleagured wide receiver spent two years away from football is proof of that.
Banks has been away from the game far longer. He's trained in the meantime, but that's a far cry from the fast-paced action of the NFL.
Is there still something there? Yes.
No, it's not the 545-pound dead lift, the 55-inch flat-footed, box jump, the 10-plus foot broad jump or the 4.6 40 (as reported by ESPN). It's the immeasurable aspect of the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder's game.
Banks' was ripped out, thrown on the floor and stomped on repeatedly. But guess what, it's still beating. And now it's beating a little bit faster.