After spending five years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, 28-year-old Brian Banks completed a lifelong dream by playing in an NFL game on Thursday night.
Banks, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year, entered the game against the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter and recorded a tackle.
His story became widely known when he successfully overturned his convictions for rape and kidnapping in 2012 after his supposed victim admitted on video to falsifying her 2002 accusations against him.
Banks was a highly-touted high school football player and USC recruit at the time of his arrest and took a plea deal of six years in prison rather than risk facing a potential 41-year sentence. He served five years and spent another five on probation, labeled a sex offender.
After his exoneration Banks, who hadn’t played organized football in ten years, was given several tryouts from NFL teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, whose head coach Pete Carroll was the one who recruited him at USC. However, he didn’t manage to secure a spot with any team and ended up with the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives before the league failed.
Now a spokesperson for the California Innocence Project, Banks is hard at work in his long-shot attempt to make the Falcons 53-man roster for the upcoming season. Playing in the preseason was step one.