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 Post subject: Brian Banks' bid has impact beyond the NFL
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:31 am 
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http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nf ... s/2669407/

Brian Banks' bid has impact beyond the NFL
Jim Corbett, USA TODAY Sports 8:01 p.m. EDT August 18, 2013
08-19-brian-banks

(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)
Story Highlights

FLOWERY, Ga. — There is no preseason story like the comeback of Brian Banks, the Atlanta Falcons' 28-year-old rookie linebacker who lost 10 years of his football prime to a wrongful rape conviction.

Because of his remarkable saga, he's mulling over 100 book and film offers. But he also sorts through a stack of mail from many who say they, too, were wrongly found guilty.

"I get letters from many guys who are still incarcerated who say I've been an inspiration," Banks told USA TODAY Sports. "One from Edward Contreras, who is incarcerated in Southern California. I know the California Innocence Project is working on his exoneration now.

"He said I'm definitely giving him hope that he might be able to come home from prison one day, too."

Banks, who has made two preseason tackles for the Falcons, also has recorded a couple of assists in the exoneration column.

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"Brian literally helped with two," said Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project. "Brian spoke out about Danny Larsen's case. (Larsen) was wrongfully convicted of possession of a dagger in a Los Angeles parking lot. Brian spoke at a march to the attorney general's office, and Danny was exonerated last May. Brian did the same with Jason Purasal, an American locked up in Nicaragua — one of these cases more about politics than law. Brian helped bring a lot of media attention."

Brooks noted how Banks and his mother, Leomia Myers, took part in a 712-mile march from San Diego to Sacramento in May to protest the incarceration of Contreras, whose case parallels Banks'.

At 17, Banks began serving a five-year prison sentence in 2002 for a crime he didn't commit. Then the former Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High prep star spent nearly another five years on probation. But Banks was exonerated after he and a private investigator secretly taped his accuser, former classmate Wanetta Gibson, recanting her accusation.

Gibson had reached out to Banks via Facebook and accepted an offer from Banks to meet. Banks took the tape to the California Innocence Project, and his conviction was overturned by a California Superior Court judge on May 24, 2012.

Banks tried out for multiple NFL teams soon after but didn't land a contract. But this offseason, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff wanted to add depth at linebacker.

"It's an amazing story no matter what the final act," Dimitroff said. "We thought he would be a good guy to come in here and compete."

Banks wears No. 53 as he fights to make the 53-man roster.

Running back Steven Jackson sidled up to Banks before Atlanta's preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and whispered in his ear: "Just enjoy the moment." Banks is.

"Regardless of what you go through, it's up to you for what you do from there," Banks said. "I chose to move forward. I definitely want to give positive, motivational inspiration. In return, I get it from others."

He is fighting an uphill battle. Banks' hopes of a roster spot might come down to the Falcons' Aug. 29 preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"If he doesn't make it, Brian knows he gave it every chance," said ex-NFL coach Jim Fassel, who coached Banks for two games in 2012 with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct United Football League. "The guy will be successful in anything because of his amazing attitude."

PHOTOS: Best shots of preseason

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"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.


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