Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team
Brian Banks speaks at a press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday.
September 21st, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Former inmate exonerated in rape case joins pro football team

Brian Banks' professional football dream is one step closer to coming true.

A decade ago, Banks was a football standout at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California and had been offered a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California.

Then 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 in May.

On Thursday, Banks, 26,  had his first practice with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, a four-team minor league circuit. He hopes to be on the field Wednesday in the Locos home opener against the Virginia Destroyers.

“There was a point in my life where I literally had to put football aside to survive in prison. I came home in 2007, went to junior college, and then had to wear a GPS tracking device and I could not play football. But I never lost faith, and I never lost that passion for it,” Banks said at a press conference on Thursday.

Locomotives coach and general manager Jim Fassel says Banks, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker, has the character to excel at professional football.

"I can only imagine the toughness he has had to show over the last however many years. For him to clearly set his goals and go after them, he’s mentally tough. He has all the characteristics you want of someone on your team," Fassel, a former NFL coach, said at the press conference Thursday.

Banks worked out with NFL teams earlier this year and they told him what he needs to do to make it to the sport's top level. Then he got the call from the Locomotives.

“This has been an amazing journey,” he said Thursday. "This is big, a giant step to my overall pursuit of playing in the NFL. I think this is the best way to gain experience. I thank God for the opportunity.”

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Filed under: California • Football • Justice • Las Vegas • Nevada • Sports
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. rad666

    So what happens to her? is she allowed to just walk away after this man lost 6 years of his lief in prison!! She should be brought up on charges and spend 6 years of her life in prison.

    September 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gahh

    If he had been guilty of a felony, the NFL has proven they couldn't care less, as long as you can play football. Look at that trash, Michael Vick. He's a convicted felon, with a hundred million dollar contract. His time in prison, wasn't enough for the terrible things he did to those animals.

    September 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    I hope he gets to live his dream. Does she have to pay back any of the money that she sued the school for?

    September 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    Good for him! A shame about the lost years. Wish you well in your career! The new Catscan and MRI research into a foolproof polygraph device should receive federal funding and fast tracked. The judicial system would be forever changed for the better and then (hopefully) only the guilty would be punished.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kevin

    That woman needs to serve some time.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Scott@9:45am:

    What a silly comment...troll on, my friend, troll on.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jerry

      Best of luck buddy. You are not the only man who has had his life destroyed by a woman in this day and time we now live in.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Obama Mama

    I am wondering if the woman was put in prison for unlawful imprisonment of an innocent man. Shame on her.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve D

      They should have done a swap and she should be in jail now for at least as much time as he did. She actually did the act and admitted it that landed him there in the first place. Everyone needs to know who this woman is so they can avoid her like the plague.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. razedeyebrow

    Even playing in the bus leagues is better than prison for something you didn't do.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • duckforcover

      And all that exposure to criminals will prepare him for the NFL!

      September 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. marc

    ye brotha!

    September 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ManTex

    This happens often enough that the stylish women deleters on here should have their accounts canceled. This is an American tragedy that is too often ignored by the stylish femininsits

    September 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Um...what?

      September 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • herosales

      i read your statement a couple of times, but wont bother with it anymore

      September 22, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Pro2A

      Still awake from partying last night or what? Your post is ridiculous and makes no sense.

      September 22, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • dino

      say what???????????????

      September 22, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. John Tucker

    Please tell me sh has been charged.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomCom

      The girl won $1 million law suit and has never been charged for her lies.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    He still got what he deserved! That’s what you get for messing around with a crazy woman! Guys you have to watch for the boil rabbit eyes & curly hair! Listen to experience here guys, “BOIL RABBIT EYES & CURLY HAIR” = crazy!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Lol.
      Yeah, okay.
      Nice reference to 'Fatal Attraction', though.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • johndanger

      Words of wisdom, Tom.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Pro2A

      Seriously?! You really think messing with the wrong chick makes you deserve to go to prison as an innocent man? You, my friend, have some very skewed thinking. You should really work on that.

      September 22, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. krehator

    Has the woman been charged yet?

    September 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Comeonman

    He wont make it to the nfl...tom fairycakes brady will feel threatened. It is pretty ironic that this is a story about an innocent man wanting to play in a league where a majority of players would be in jail if not for the status given to them by the adoring meathead sports public.

    September 22, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. SS

    This guy has been through absolute hell, hope can carve out a decent living with United Football or gets a shot with an NFL team some day. That woman needs jail for her false claims, justice system absolutely blows.

    September 22, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
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