|NFL Dream Deferred for Exonerated Football Player Brian Banks|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Aug 31, 2013, 2:33 PM|
The NFL dreams of Brian Banks, who was exonerated last year after being wrongfully convicted of rape, were cut short when he failed to earn a spot on the Atlanta Falcons' 53-man roster, according to the football team's website.
Banks got the ax on Friday along with 10 other players, the Atlanta Falcons reported. The 28-year-old rookie linebacker had been signed to the team as a free agent in April, and had said playing in the pre-season was "one of the best moments of my life."
Banks said on Thursday that he had been "fully consumed trying to make this team," but that it was difficult given "all the years that I missed out on football."
"My learning curve is definitely different from a lot of the guys here," Banks said. "I was learning a lot of the one-on-one basic things of football as well as the intermediate things of football and meshing them all together at once in a small period of time. It was definitely challenging, but I've enjoyed myself the whole time."
A rising high school football star from southern California who had been granted a full scholarship to play in the renowned Division 1 program at the University of Southern California, Banks' career was brought to a sudden standstill by a wrongful kidnap-rape conviction in 2002 that put the then-17-year-old behind bars for five years.
Banks was then placed on probation for five years after his 2007 release. He had to register as a sex offender and could not live within 2,000 feet from any school or park. He also had to keep a GPS device around his ankle to ensure that he did not leave the state.
Banks was exonerated in May 2012 after his accuser contacted him on Facebook and recanted her story. He was drafted by the Falcons less than one year later.
Banks released a statement after the news came out that he had been waived by the Atlanta football team.
"As most have heard, my time with the Atlanta Falcons have come to an early end. I want to thank Mr. Blank, Dimitroff, & Smith for such an amazing and unforgettable opportunity. This experience has shown me a piece of life that was once taken, and where things (football wise ) would have been if it wasn't for the 10 years of life loss," he said.
"I just want to thank EVERYONE for the amazing outpour of love & support. So much more 2 come from me, Im only beginning. And still #Unbroken," he later tweeted.
While it is unclear whether Banks will continue to pursue a playing career in the NFL, he appears to be booking a series of speaking engagements and appearances, according to his Twitter account.