Did the Falcons sign Brian Banks because they legitimately believe he has a chance to make the team? Or did they sign him because they want to do something nice for a guy whose football career was stolen from him when he was falsely accused of rape?
Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff knows that’s a reasonable question, but he said on NFL Network today that the Falcons aren’t bringing Banks in to do him a favor. They’re bringing him in because he can play football.
“This isn’t a charity case. This is a great feel-good story but also one we believe he can come in here and compete,” Dimitroff said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Banks was a well-regarded high school player who had earned a scholarship to USC before he went to prison in 2002 for a crime he didn’t commit, so he may have the talent to be an NFL player. But realistically, Banks is an extreme long shot to make it in the NFL. The false rape accusation 11 years ago ended his hopes of playing in college, and the entirety of his football experience since then is two games with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, for whom he recorded one tackle. It’s almost impossible for a player with that little experience and that much time away from the game to get to the NFL.
But “almost impossible” and “impossible” aren’t the same thing, and Dimitroff says Banks understands the challenge he has ahead of him.
“He knows it is tough,” Dimitroff said. “Everyone knows that when they step through the doors here that it is a long journey. He is well on his way to achieving what he wants to achieve in his journey but there is still a long distance to go. He understands that, we understand that. As far as putting a probability on it, it is difficult to say. Given his character, his makeup and what he has gone through – much more than you or I would even imagine going through – that speaks volumes of his perseverance and drive to continue to learn and grow. He has been away from the game for a while but we are confident he will work very, very hard when the time is appropriate to learn the system and do whatever he can to increase his chances to make the football team.”
Those chances are slim, but Banks will have football fans rooting for him.