Brian Banks’ story has been well-documented. The former high school football standout from California who served prison time and had his life and career path interrupted in a massive way for a rape he didn’t commit has finally landed an NFL job.
The Atlanta Falcons signed Banks earlier this week, and now the 27-year-old has a chance to complete what he started more than a decade ago.
Brian Banks joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss his story, starting with the original incident, his time in prison and his road back to football. He also talked about his very positive meeting with the Falcons last year and where he thinks he’d be had he never gone to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
On not looking or sounding angry when discussing the woman who falsely accused him:
“I wouldn’t say I was angry to a point that it would reflect in my mannerisms, but definitely disappointed and frustrated and angry in regards to what had took place in my life. But in regards to me sitting down and actually face-to-face speaking to her, it was an opportunity for me to possibly shed light on a situation that could have a result in me getting my freedom back. So instead of panicking or reacting in a way that would ruin that opportunity, I had to actually calm myself down and just be presentable and hope for the best.”
On how this whole thing began:
“I decided to venture off on campus to an area that’s known as a make-out spot with a girl that I’d know for a few years. We made out. We didn’t have sex, but by the end of the day I was being arrested and accused of raping her.”
On his reaction when he was arrested:
“It made no sense to me. I was confused, I was scared. I wanted my mom. It was one of those situations where I was clueless as to what was actually going on.”
On going to prison at the age of 16:
“I had to grow up in one day. I had to go from being a 16-year-old boy to a grown man and learn the ropes very quickly.”
On the difficulties of being in prison at that age:
“Not having that sense of being protected by your mother. Not having someone there to put their arm around you and tell you it’s gonna be OK. Not being able to cry and express yourself in the way you really feel because you don’t want other people to see your weakness. Just having to adapt to a world that I knew nothing about.”
On what he gained in prison:
“I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to learn, I wanted to be greater than I was, and greater than the situation, and greater than the labels that were put against me. So I spent my time reading and studying. I got into psychology and sociology, afro-centric studies. I got into different religious texts, and I just wanted to have an understanding of life, of myself, my surroundings. I wanted to be better. I worked on my penmanship and I read the dictionary and thesaurus to learn new words, and I worked on the way I spoke as a person. I didn’t want this one situation to be the defining factor of the rest of my life.”
On not being able to play football in prison and not focusing on football upon his parole:
“They wouldn’t allow that in California state prisons. It went as far as flag football, but no one really pulled flags. It was kind of tackle without flags. It was pretty physical. We had a lot of fun, but it was a way to get that aggression off. … People have to keep in mind that I served five years and two months — I paroled on Aug. 29, 2007. I was 22 years old when I came home. I still had another five years on parole with a GPS on my ankle. So at that time that I paroled from prison, the last thing on my mind was trying to make it into the NFL. It was more of just trying to get out of prison and still be healthy mentally, as well as physically.”
On meeting with the Falcons before last season:
“They brought me in for a tryout, and after the tryout, the GM [Thomas] Dimitroff and Coach [Mike] Smith sat me down and looked me in the eyes and said, ‘You know what, we gotta be honest with you. You actually look better than some of the guys that we have in camp. The problem is, we don’t have enough time to get you acclimated to the system, to our playbook, to our defensive schemes. It’s gonna take well over a couple weeks to get you ready, so we just don’t think it’s a good time for you to come in right now.’ And they went on to have an amazing season. We didn’t have any communication at all, but they did say that they were very interested and wanted to, at some point, get back into [it] and see if this was a possibility. And they held to their word and brought me back in.”
On how he thinks things would have gone had he not gone through that situation:
“I would have signed a contract with the USC Trojans, went and played collegiate football. I suspect I would’ve did very well, signed to a team with the NFL and I think I’d be having an amazing career right now. Put it this way: I know that I’m not in Atlanta for nothing. I know they didn’t bring me in for nothing. For me, physically, to be able to perform at this level and at this point so far to receive a contract with the Atlanta Falcons speaks a lot about my physical ability as well as my mental ability. So I can only imagine where I would be if this never happened. But at the same time, mentally and spiritually where I’d be, I don’t think it would be on a level as where I am today.”