Brian Banks on signing with the Atlanta Falcons: ‘I can’t wait’


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

To Brian Banks, signing an NFL contact signified “the biggest accomplishment of my life” -- with the notable exception of regaining his freedom.

Banks, the former Long Beach Polytechnic High School football standout who spent years in prison before his rape conviction was overturned, earned a spot Wednesday with the Atlanta Falcons.


In a teleconference with reporters, Banks said making the Falcons’ 53-man roster would signify success for him.

“We talk about coming from the bottom,” he said. “I know all too well what that is.”

In 2002, a classmate accused Banks of rape. At the time, the 17-year-old linebacker was drawing attention from USC, UCLA and other schools, he said, even though he had just completed his junior year of high school.

He pleaded no contest to charges of kidnapping and rape, spent five years in prison and another five on parole.

But Banks met with his accuser in 2011 after the woman reached out to him on Facebook. She admitted she had lied about the alleged rape in a conversation that was taped by Banks and a private investigator, setting the wheels in motion for the exoneration.

Since then, his story has drawn national attention, and last year he was invited to try out for multiple NFL teams. At one point, he attended mini-camp with the Seattle Seahawks. The team is coached by Pete Carroll, who was the head man at USC when Banks said he drew interest from the school. He left the team’s camp without a contract.

Banks said he tried out with the Falcons just two weeks prior to the start of the 2012 season. Team officials told him that although he looked OK physically, the timing was bad. The team told him that they would be in touch.


Without an NFL deal, Banks spent the 2012 season with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League (UFL), where he appeared in two games and posted one tackle.

But Wednesday, he was signing his new deal in a sweat shirt depicting a California license plate that read “XONR8” and a black-and-white Dodgers baseball cap. He said a documentary on his life is in the works.

“I can’t wait to meet all my teammates,” Banks said. “To shake everyone’s hands, to start to learn names and build rapport with everybody. I am honored to play with those guys but I also view everyone, from players to coaches and everyone I meet throughout my experiences, as a human being just as I am.”

For the record, 5:18 p.m., April 3: An earlier version of the post incorrectly said that Banks met with his accuser last year. The meeting took place in 2011.


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Twitter: @MattStevensLAT