Exonerated in rape case, man lines up NFL tryouts
Brian Banks breaks down in a California courtroom after his rape conviction is expunged.
May 31st, 2012
11:57 AM ET

Exonerated in rape case, man lines up NFL tryouts

A Southern California man exonerated last week on a decade-old rape conviction was looking ahead Thursday to try to relaunch a dream taken from him because of prison time he served in the case, the chance to play in the National Football League.

Brian Banks was a football standout at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and had been offered a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California when he was accused of rape.

Fearing a potentially long sentence, he followed the advice of his attorney and pleaded no contest to assaulting a classmate.

But he maintained his innocence throughout nearly six years of imprisonment, subsequent probation and registration as a sex offender.

And, according to the California Innocence Project, the woman later admitted that Banks had not kidnapped or raped her during a consensual encounter.

A judge in California tossed out his conviction last week.

It didn't take long for NFL teams to start contacting Banks with tryout invitations, according to news reports, with six in line to work him out.

First among them was the Seattle Seahawks, coached by Pete Carroll, the same man who offered that scholarship to Banks a decade ago, according to a report in the Seattle Times.

"I feel very confident in getting that tryout and producing on the field," Banks said. "I've been working extremely hard for this opportunity."

Banks was a linebacker in high school, and his team won a state championship when he was a junior, according to the Seattle Times report.

A Super Bowl championship is obviously a long way away, but the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Banks told ESPN's Rick Reilly he has been working out since October and is confident he's ready to take the first step in the NFL.

"I'll make 'em happy," ESPN quotes him as saying. "After all I've been through these last 10 years, I can still do some things that will impress you."

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Filed under: California • Football • Justice • Pro football
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. nojusticed

    Just another sign of a failed justice system. Not to say that his attorney gave the proper advice, innocence of a crime is not good enough to fight it, especially when it is one persons word against another.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Juli

    sadly, CNN didn't mention that it was his own defense attorney that coerced him into taking that plea and didnt' allow him to speak with his mother or anyone. Very happy that he's being given a second chance at his dream.
    hopefully, someone goes after the (false) accuser and also his defense attorney!

    May 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Probably a silly public defender at the time...they go for deals just to move on to the next case. Basically work for the prosecution!

      May 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      It clearly says "on the advice of his attorney."

      May 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marah

      People who falsely accuse someone should have to serve the same jail time. She wrecked that mans life for the past 10 years

      May 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dann

      I feel she should have to serve prision time for doing this to someone.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dann

      I feel she should have to serve prison time for doing this to someone.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMM

      read it again, 3rd paragraph

      May 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caitlin

      Clearly you didn't listen to any of the video's where his lawyer clearly states that in the interview.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. L.A.

    "Ex-con" (in teaser headline) is not a right word for "falsely imprisoned person."

    May 31, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Grammar

      My thoughts exactly.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • SlaveWorld

      Thank You!!!!

      May 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. comingsoon

    you try to mobilize the poor, wall street paints the target on your back.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    His lying accuser, like all the others who have done the same, need prison time and THEN a civil judgement for damages! Fact is, they aught to do his time!! Disgusting to hide behind this victim nonsense that has everyone all up in a dither...bogus moneymaker for lawyers!

    May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Princess of Jubille Drive

    I worked in the Forensic Realm for over ten years and had the chance to meet many of the amazing people within the Innocence Project. They are truly amazing and dedicated to their clients. As it states a lot of good people are wrongly convicted of something they did not do. I wish Brain the best of luck. Brian remember that noone defines you but you yourself. Best wishes and God Bless.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jposto

    Is it right to call him an ex-con when he was falsely convicted and imprisoned and has now been exonerated? Feels like CNN is continuing to stigmatize an innocent man.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RGCheek

    OK, I hate to say it as I am sick of the race baiters that are all over the place, but I cannot help but believe that Banks' public defender likely engaged in racial stereotyping and presumed Banks guilty from the git-go.

    I dont care if the attorney was another minority, cause frankly those folks seem to hold on to more negative stereotypes about their own than most whites I know, though mostly along class lines instead of racial.

    Man, Brian, many of us are praying for you, because deep down all US men know that, but for the Grace of God, we could have been in your prison shoes just as easily.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. raiders

    Thats the system for you. guilty until proven otherwise. good luck on your tryout dude

    May 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Money Money

    The accusers family received a cash settlement over a million bucks. Didn't want to recant and make her family have to pay the money back.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. crybaby

    wow CNN thanks for the miss interpretation! Great Job

    May 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mary

    This women *rayped* him of ten years and got off scott free! Doesn't feel good when a man does it to a women, what makes people think a man would feel any different?
    No equality of justice is there?

    May 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SlaveWorld

    Go Brian! You can do it!

    May 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. HIDE BEHIND

    Where did the legal system fail in this case?
    Can anyone realy point a finger of guilt or failure upon anyone other than his accuser?
    Was the "social discord" of women in the political realms that, inadvertantly, places a bias in favor of any females word in these cases?
    It was not the legal system itself, members of its formal bodys, but from outside the system came pressure.
    For anyone to lable this man an ex-con is not wrong legally, but morally, it shows lack of respect to the man.
    HOPE!
    Let this mans case bring hope to "all" such who have been wrongly convicted, and to their loved ones who slso share their fate.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. refudiator

    In the not to distant future all youth, especially those buying skittles and sodas, will have to stream their every action on the internet to prove their innocence. The prison system needs to grow in order to meet the needs of investors, lawyers, and judges.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
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