Yesterday, Banks called his minicamp invite with the Seattle Seahawks, "The second best day of my life." It isn't too hard to figure out what the best day was— "May 24, my exoneration."
Pete Carroll, the Seahawks head coach was one of the first people to reach out to Banks after ten years of enduring bad prison food and even worse legal advice. When the 26-year old Banks was a 16-year old California high school football star, it was Carroll (then at USC) who offered the young linebacker a full scholarship to the football powerhouse before he pleaded "no contest" to a crime he didn't commit.
Now, after being away from the sport he loved, Banks was getting his chance to live " a dream come true."
"When we first heard the story about Brian, I thought it was some remarkable circumstances and a guy up against all odds, extraordinary circumstances, but not until I talked to him on the telephone did I realize what kind of guy this guy is and that he deserved a chance," said Carroll after the workout.
"Given other circumstances, he would have earned it under our eyes, but this is a guy that just deserved it."
Carroll was known for developing linebackers at USC and you couldn't get any rawer talent trying out for the NFL than Banks. He's taken off 50 pounds in the last year and has been running 4.6 and 4.7 40's on his own but the only things he's tackled in ten years were his demons.
Carroll was careful not to confuse reality from the feel good story.
"He looks like a guy who has not been schooled and worked out in the fashion that our guys are at this level. It's going to take him some time and I think our expectations need to be fitted to that," he said. He's not had the upscale program and individual workouts and the kinds of things that guys do to get here. So to look as good as he did under those circumstances was worth noting."
Banks worked on basic position drills with the Seahawks' coaches but had the whole facility to himself because Seattle was docked two practices because of too much contact in OTAs. A real test of where he stands will be going against NFL players in San Diego.
How did yesterday's workout go? It's worth noting that he was invited back to the Seahawks minicamp but hasn't accepted because he's working out for the San Diego Chargers today and has invites from the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins as well.
Right now, it might seem more like good P.R. strategy by these NFL clubs to give Banks a shot than a sound football move but it might not be so far-fetched for him to make a team. He had ten years to think about what could have been and might have a hunger so strong it could overcome his lack of college experience and even his senior year of high school.
Banks is grateful so many teams are giving him a shot.
"It's taken some getting used to," he said. "And I'm realizing that I'm giving people hope to overcome the situations they're also going through. And if that's my calling, I'm ready to answer."
Asked if Banks could make the team, Carroll said, "It's very possible."