Brian Banks Joins Las Vegas LocomotivesSeptember 20, 2012 - United Football League (UFL)
"We're going to give him all of six days to get ready," Locos coach and general manager Jim Fassel said. "I don't think I've ever seen that in my life."
The Locos open at home on Wednesday, Sept. 26, against the Virginia Destroyers, the defending champions. Banks, 26, has not played since he was in high school. His education, his life, and his career were derailed in 2002 by an accusation of rape, later recanted. He spent five years in prison and five years on probation after accepting a plea bargain on the advice of counsel, with the fear that he'd do much more time if convicted of a crime he knew he hadn't committed.
The court threw out all the charges on May 24, 2012, after his accuser acknowledged telling a false story. Banks, a highly-recruited linebacker while in high school in Long Beach, CA., again set out to achieve his goal of playing professional football.
"This has been an amazing journey," he said at a news conference at the Locos' offices after the morning practice. "I had the opportunity to work out with NFL teams, was evaluated, got constructive criticism on what I needed to work on. I was pleased to have a call from coach (Fassel) and an offer to play in the UFL. 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."
At 6-2, 245 pounds, he has the size, speed, and strength. He needs to make up for a lot of lost time, but Fassel likes the way Banks approaches the challenges.
"This is not a game for the faint-hearted," Fassel said. "Now 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. Now we just have to get him back into the game."
Banks said he felt that he wasn't "far at all" from being able to contribute. Just getting back on the field for a regular practice carried its own reward.
"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," he said.
Though his story resonates so loudly with the public, Banks expressed a desire simply to fit in with his teammates as he geared himself for his first season as a professional athlete.
"I just hope to be treated like any other player, not be treated like anything special," he said.
United Football League Stories from September 20, 2012
- Brian Banks Joins Las Vegas Locomotives - UFL
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