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. Kris

    Come on CNN, are you seriously not going to fix the "ex-con" headline? Is there even a question as to how insulting that is?

    May 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fuzzy math?

    Thanx for fixing the headline cnn. And thanx to all the folks who brought it to their attention. Good luck and best wishes Brian.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |

      the reporting error still exists.

      It's still listed on CNN's main Web page as;

      "A shot at an NFL dream for ex-con..."

      This gentleman IS NOT an EX-CON.

      Quit dragging his reputation through the dirt CNN!!!

      June 1, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lucien

    is the accuser going to be forced to pay back the money? i would hope so, if not she better go into hiding cause there are a lot of crazy people out there.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • brown

      Crazy? There is nothing crazy about an eye for an eye!

      Open your eyes and you will see the truth about the world we live in.

      June 1, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      Just the money? She should face the same jail time too! I bet very little happens to her.

      The gender bias in the court is disgusting.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Steffer

    This case is again not the only one out there. The Innocence Projects regardless of what state they practice in is simply amazing in dedication and finding truth for those wrongfully convicted. My brother and his families lives changed forever when he was wrongfully accused and set-up by his former wife and step-daughter. 14 years of pure hell and destruction ponder this family. They steadfast loyalty to their son and the fight through the system finally proved his innocence. Problem, the accusers who give wrongful testimony have yet to be held accountable for their actions which is absolutely WRONG!! There needs to be a law for punishment to those who wrongfully and maliciously lie, wreck and send innocent people to prison. I pray this family and their son can move forward and overcome their nightmare. Best wishes for your future!!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      The hard cases would have us all believe that everyone in jail is guilty. They are sadistic people who take pleasure in watching others suffer, mostly based on opinion instead of fact.

      When we make a mistake we get thrown in jail. When law enforcement and the govt makes a mistake they just say "oooops, our bad".

      June 1, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. @ Anna

    **She gets off free and clear & that is BS!!!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimmy

    Best of luck my friend. I hope you find what you are looking for! Call Reggie McKenzie, we could use a LB.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Greek American

    Isn't this guy now legally able to sue the state or police or someone for some big money because of this?

    May 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Because he was found innocent, he can get $100 for every day he was in prison, under California law, and he has filed for that, but from what I've seen he apparently doesn't plan on suing her. However, the school district might be able to go after her for the money they paid her.

      June 1, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. @ CNN

    As one of the media outlets bringing this story to the public u should want to show empathy for Mr. Banks & label him in a more appropriate manner. He is man who has been "Wrongly accused" of a crime he did not commit. I used to love watching & reading CNN news but as of late I am realizing that CNN has become more of a "report anything, clean it up later news media" and that is sad. Get it together CNN. I mean seriously, what happened to the integrity of CNN?

    May 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GG

    Best of luck, Brian!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. @ Brian

    I doubt that you'll read this but "Good luck with the NFL and everything else you strive to acheive!" I hope all your troubles are now behind you. I also hope that God sprinkles many blessings your way and you have a beautiful, fulfilling life. You made it through this you can make it through anything. 🙂

    May 31, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. @ Brian

    ***achieve oops, lol 🙂

    May 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cj

    Sue her for the lost education, lost scholarships, lost endorsements, lost freedom, lost everything. She needs to pay.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. slupdawg

    Wow, usually it works just the opposite. NFL star attempts to become a convict.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WeeelNow

    Hey no probelmo with the "Innocence Project" but come on now; 75% of their cases are people that have LONG, LONG LONG LONG LONG LONG LONG ok – criminal histories. So ya, just because he didn't do it THIS TIME, I'd chalk it up to one of the 30-40 that he did do and didnt get popped for. Cheers.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. John Dough

    If he really DIDN'T do it–than he's NOT QUALIFIED for the NFL!

    June 1, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
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