Reilly: Some NFL dreams never die

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
9:00
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By now most people know the story of Brian Banks, the former USC recruit convicted and later exonerated of rape after serving five-plus years in prison.

ESPN.com's Rick Reilly paints the picture of Banks, who is still hoping for his shot in the NFL:
It's not every day that the Washington Redskins call up a man convicted of rape and ask him if he'd agree to a one-day workout, but it happened Tuesday.

Oh, and the Kansas City Chiefs called Tuesday, too. And the Miami Dolphins. And they were three days behind the Seattle Seahawks, who will work him out on June 7.

Why are all these NFL teams eager to check out a convicted sex offender, a man who served five years in prison and wore a GPS ankle bracelet for another five?

Because Brian Banks didn't do it.

A judge in Long Beach, Calif., threw out his kidnapping and rape conviction last week after looking at a videotape of his accuser admitting she lied. After 10 years, he was suddenly a free and innocent man.

"My mouth hurts from smiling so much," Banks told me Tuesday night. "Unbelievable."

Banks was 16 in 2002, the bluest of blue chips out of Long Beach Poly High School, an NFL feeder if there ever was one. He'd already been offered a full-ride scholarship at USC by then-coach Pete Carroll.

But on a summer day that year, he and a girl named Wanetta Gibson decided to go make out in a stairwell at school. When they came out, she accused him of rape.

No semen traces in the rape kit. No witnesses. And yet Banks' attorney insisted he cop a plea, saying his size, age and race would mean a sure conviction of 40-plus years. He said no, no, a hundred times no and finally, reluctantly, yes.

Banks got six years. He served 62 months.

You can read the rest of Reilly's column here.

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