The clearest sign that Brian Banks has been away from football for a long time didn’t come on the field.
His game has some rust on it, to be sure, but the most obvious way to know that Banks hasn’t been spending the last 10 years at practices is that he looked forward to being chewed out by Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. Most players have heard enough from coaches over the years, but it probably sounded like a song to Banks after spending 10 years trying to clear his name from wrongful rape charges. Banks has been exonerated and now he’s getting a chance to make his dream of playing in the NFL come true at Seahawks minicamp.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to have a number, a jersey…I didn’t know what to expect when I first got here,” Banks said. “I got to my locker and saw there was a jersey in it — number 43. And I just wanted to take a picture of it just for myself. It’s just amazing to see my name on the back of it. It’s an honor to be taken serious and to be given this opportunity.”
If this were a fairy tale, Banks would have stepped on the field Wednesday and turned into some unholy mix of Dick Butkus, Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis. It’s real life, though, and Banks’ reps as a backup middle linebacker weren’t on that level. Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports said he didn’t look any more out of place on the field than any other player who wouldn’t make it past the first cut in training camp, which would count as criticism if not for Banks’ background.
Norton said he thought there was a chance that Banks could be an NFL player and that Wednesday’s practice was a good first impression. If Norton can convince the rest of the team of those things, Banks’ improbable run of good fortune will continue through at least the summer.