Former high school football star Brian Banks, who was exonerated in a rape case after spending years behind bars, worked out for the Seattle Seahawks Thursday and was invited to return for a tryout at next week's minicamp.
Banks, 26, was put through his paces in a closed session at the Seahawks indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.
“This is by far the second-best day of my life,” Banks said afterward. “May 24th, my day of exoneration, and just today. To be out here on this field, to work out with the Seahawks, to be given an opportunity to have a tryout, I really don’t have words for it. This is a dream come true.
“I know a lot of people work hard to get to this point. I’ve also worked hard myself. I’m just thankful for this opportunity.”
Banks held a 20-minute session with the media that included camera crews from “60 Minutes,” “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show” and “The CBS Evening News” – as well as a TV crew compiling a documentary, “The Brian Banks Story.”
Banks is chasing a dream that has been on hold since 2002, when he was falsely accused of rape. He spent 62 months in prison, but was exonerated last month after his accuser admitted she had lied.
Banks worked out first for the Seahawks because of his previous association with Seattle coach Pete Carroll — who had recruited Banks while he was coaching at USC.
“I know that you’ve just met a remarkable young man,” Carroll said as he stepped to the podium.
“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," Carroll said. "Given other circumstances, he would have earned it in front of our eyes. But this is a guy that just deserved it.
“This is a great illustration for us of why people deserve a second chance.”
Banks was put through his workout by by Ken Norton, Jr., the Seahawks’ linebackers coach.
"He looks like a guy who has not been schooled and worked out in the kind of fashion that our guys are at this level," Carroll said. "It’s going to take some time and I think our expectations need to be fitted to that. … But to look as well as he did, under those circumstances, was worth noting.”
Banks said he knows he has a long way to go.
“I definitely have a lot of work to do, but I know I’m ready to take on that responsibility and the task of working hard to get where I need to be,” Banks said. “I feel like I did enough to impress the coaches today to give me a tryout to further see what I can do. And I’m just ready to get back into training to just be that much more prepared for that tryout.”
(Courtesy of Clare Farnsworth/Seahawks.com)