Many of the players who came onto the field in the final minutes of Thursday night’s preseason games are camp fodder whose identities were a mystery to even hardcore fans.
That’s not the case for Falcons linebacker Brian Banks. Banks’ story of wrongful imprisonment for falsified rape charges and eventual exoneration has been well documented, as has his positive attitude following his 10-year ordeal, which made his appearance in the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ game against the Bengals something more than just winding down the clock on the first exhibition of the year. Banks said the moment was just as exciting as you’d imagine.
“It was out of control,” Banks said, via Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Just running out there — the flames, the cheers, the crowd. I wasn’t nervous at all but just the emotion of running through the tunnel, the adrenalin that comes with it, is better than any rollercoaster ride you could get on.”
Banks made a couple of tackles during his brief appearance and he remains a long shot to wind up on the team’s 53-man roster. Banks then showed off his remarkable ability to find a bright side when asked if he needed to make the team to consider his efforts a success.
“Do I have to make it?” Banks said. “I don’t feel like I have to, but I want to — not just for myself but for my family, for the people who’ve supported me and believed in me. For people who’ve lost hope in their own [life]. If I can be some kind of vessel, to show people that no matter the hard time you experienced, you can still succeed, I want to put out that positive energy, to never quit and never give up.”
It’s a strong message from a man who has proven his own strength more often than not since his life took a surreal turn for the worse more than a decade ago.