Brian Banks lived one of life’s worst nightmares. Now he’s tasting his biggest dream. Recently, he’s been contacted by the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Miami Dolphins. Banks spent five years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit and five more labeled a rapist. Now these teams want to see what he’s got. The 2002 blue chipper is getting a second chance.
Banks’s rape and kidnapping convictions were overturned by a California judge last week after the key witness and victim recanted. She admitted in a taped interview that the crimes never happened. His life changed dramatically as the truth was revealed.
Many say you can’t come back to NFL skills after 10 years. As Rick Reilly of ESPN writes here, if Banks can’t play for the NFL, the Arizona Diamondbacks want to discuss a front-office job.
We love comeback stories; this one also suggests something about us. A sense of justice seems to be imbedded in the human soul. We may not agree on much, but even little children universally get upset when someone cuts in line. It’s not fair, it’s not just; we are quick to object when an injustice is clear.
America is a nation founded on belief in the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Also, on justice for all. We certainly don’t always get it right, but these have been our hope and our expectation. Brian Banks’s story reminds us that, once we really see injustice, we want to make things right.
As Banks works toward his dream, we are inspired to continue to expect and push for the American—and indeed all humanity’s—dream of justice for all. We can and must improve the justice system, using proven best practices, to reduce wrongful convictions and get as close to truth in justice as we can.
Meanwhile, we’ll be watching Brian Banks. According to ESPN, NFL trainer Gavin Macmillan (who’s volunteered to work with him) says that—with a dead-lift of 545 pounds, a box jump of 55 inches flat-footed, a broad jump of 10-plus feet and a 4.6 40 run—the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Brian Banks has a shot.