Opinion Corner: Second chance for BanksA story that has brushed past the news wire and gone somewhat overlooked on the national sports scene is that of Brian Banks. I know what you’re probably thinking: Who is Brian Banks?
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
A story that has brushed past the news wire and gone somewhat overlooked on the national sports scene is that of Brian Banks.
I know what you’re probably thinking: Who is Brian Banks?
Ten years ago, that would have been a relatively silly question for anyone who follows college football. After all, he was one of the top recruits in the nation, receiving offers from top schools like Ohio State and Michigan before ultimately giving a verbal commitment in the spring of 2002 to play linebacker at the University of Southern California.
Just 17 years old with some of the brightest years ahead of him, life took a sharp turn in the wrong direction just before Banks was set to enter his senior year of high school.
A female childhood friend accused Banks of rape and kidnapping, to which he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six years in prison.
He went on to serve five years, was released, put on probation and required to register as a sex offender.
Here’s the problem, though — the woman had lied about the entire incident.
In February 2011, she met with a private investigator and recanted the statements she made about the incident, citing that it took her so long because she didn’t want to lose the $1.5 million she and her family won in a civil lawsuit against the school district.
Nonetheless, Banks, now 26, was exonerated of the charges and had his record wiped clean following a court hearing in May.
The crying shame is that he’ll never be able to get back those five years spent in prison in addition to the last five on probation as a sex offender. But now the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder is getting back to what he does best — play football.
Banks worked out for three NFL teams in the last week, including San Diego, Kansas City and Seattle. Reports out of Minneapolis indicate the Vikings will likely take a look at him as well.
It’s just incredible to think of the 180-degree turn this man’s life has taken from just five years ago, when he was being released from prison and trying to make plans to play junior college football.
This isn’t your Michael Vick or Donte’ Stallworth story either, so don’t make the terrible mistake of grouping Banks in with men who were actually guilty of their crimes. This is a guy who unjustly surrendered some of the best years of his life and is now on track to make for a great sports story whenever he makes an NFL roster — which, mark my words, he will do.
The fact is he’s still just 26 with fresh legs. And when he makes a team, it’ll be for more than just a PR move, as all indications from his tryouts are that the guy can ball.
Who is Brian Banks? I hope that’s a question every NFL general manager is asking themselves right about now.
Willhide is a news writer at the Jamestown Sun