As reported yesterday by USA Today (here), Brian Banks was one of ten players cut from the roster of the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. Legions of fans—football followers or not—were cheering Banks on in his uphill bid to play with the NFL, an effort delayed ten years by a false accusation, wrongful conviction, prison, and his eventual exoneration when his accuser admitted the sexual assault never happened. USA Today called his determined effort the “summer feel-good story.”
Banks, a blue-chip athlete, inspired many with his indomitable spirit as he pursued his deferred dream. But none more than those who share his experience of wrongful conviction and incarceration. Even as he focused on preparing for the incredible on-field challenge, he became active off-field with the California Innocence Project (CIP).
Banks and his mother participated in a 712-mile march from San Diego to Sacramento in May to protest the incarceration of CIP client, Edward Contreras. As reported by the NFL (here), Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project, said that Banks spoke out and brought media attention to the cases of two men, Danny Larsen, wrongfully convicted of possession of a dagger in a Los Angeles parking lot and Jason Purasal, an American locked up in Nicaragua. Both men are now free.
Banks has had more than 100 book and film offers to tell his remarkable story.
Bill Bradley reported online for the NFL:
“If he doesn’t make it, Brian knows he gave it every chance,” said ex-NFL coach Jim Fassel, who coached Banks for two games in 2012 with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct United Football League. “The guy will be successful in anything because of his amazing attitude.”
Best wishes, Brian, in all of your endeavors.