Falcons sign LB Brian Banks - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Falcons sign LB Brian Banks

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Brian Banks is introduced to the media via conference call from Flowery Branch (photo by Chip Zeller/FOX 5 Sports). Brian Banks is introduced to the media via conference call from Flowery Branch (photo by Chip Zeller/FOX 5 Sports).
Brian Banks is introduced to the media via conference call from Flowery Branch (photo by Chip Zeller/FOX 5 Sports). Brian Banks is introduced to the media via conference call from Flowery Branch (photo by Chip Zeller/FOX 5 Sports).
The Atlanta Falcons tweeted this photo of Brian Banks smiling after signing his deal with the team on Wednesday (photo credit: @Atlanta_Falcons) The Atlanta Falcons tweeted this photo of Brian Banks smiling after signing his deal with the team on Wednesday (photo credit: @Atlanta_Falcons)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -

The Atlanta Falcons have signed Brian Banks, the former Southern Cal recruit whose NFL dreams were derailed when he was convicted of rape and kidnapping charges 10 years ago.  Banks was later exonerated, but until now, his lifelong goal has been out of reach.  

The storybook ending came late Wednesday morning when Banks officially signed a contract to play for the Falcons.  An emotional Banks gave credit to God and his mother, saying he plans on making an impact both on and off the football field.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS OF BRIAN BANKS SIGNING WITH THE FALCONS

The sight of him walking through the Falcons' front office seemed like a miracle considering what he's been through in the last decade.  Banks was just a 16-year-old junior in high school with a scholarship offer from USC awaiting him when a classmate accused him of rape.  He was looking at 41 years of hard time, and was forced into a plea deal.  He spent five years in jail, served another five years probation, and was given the lifelong tag of a sexual predator. 

"We talk about coming from the bottom.  I know all too well what that is, and what it's about, and what it looks like, and what it feels like," Banks said on a conference call introducing him to the media Wednesday morning.

But after Banks was released, his accuser was caught on video recanting her story.  In an emotional return to court, Banks was at last exonerated on May 12, 2012.  Ten years of his life were gone, but he remained grateful.

Now, less than a year after he was exonerated, Banks has a chance to resume his dream of playing in the NFL.  He tried out with the Seattle Seahawks last season, and even took part in Falcons' offseason workouts last year.  He ended up playing semi-pro ball in Las Vegas instead. 

But he wasn't in NFL shape-- until FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer got a hold of him. Just days after he was exonerated, Banks began training with Glazer-- who broke the story on Twitter Wednesday morning when he tweeted, "Gang, I'm reporting the best scoop I could ever report: my man FINALLY has his dream back: Falcons have just signed @BrianBanksFREE!!!!"

"He gave me a call two weeks after exoneration, and if I remember correctly, his exact words were, 'Get your ass in the gym-- let's go to work!'"  Banks said of Glazer. 

"The guy still smiles every time I see him," Glazer told FOX 5 Sports on Wednesday.  "Every day I see this guy, he has a smile on his face.  I don't know how that is, but I thank God I met him."

Banks will report for Falcons offseason workouts on April 22.

In a story posted on the team's website, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said, "We are pleased to have Brian join our team.  We had a chance to work him out last year and have been monitoring his progress since then. He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity. We are happy that Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL and we look forward to seeing him on the field."

FOLLOW BRIAN ON TWITTER: @BrianBanksFREE
LIKE BRIAN'S FACEBOOK PAGE: www.facebook.com/TheBrianBanksStory
BRIAN BANKS' WEBSITE: www.brianbanks.org

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