Sports with Art Thiel
9:00 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Wrongly accused of rape, Seahawks give Brian Banks shot at dream

Brian Banks is not a bitter man. He has a right to be - after serving five years in prison and five on probation for a rape he didn't commit. But he says he wants to focus on his future.

Banks was cleared of the charges just two weeks ago, after his accuser recanted her story. Now, the Seahawks are giving the former high school football standout a shot at his dream. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel was at Seahawks headquarters Thursday, where Banks tried out for the team.

Possible pro football future put on hold

Art says Brian Banks was a star linebacker at Long Beach Poly High School 10  years ago. He caught the eye of then-USC head coach Pete Carroll, who now leads the Seahawks.

"When Banks was growing up in Long Beach, USC was the powerhouse program. Pete Carroll called him in his junior year and talked to him about wanting to recruit him when he became a senior. That's when he ran into trouble. But the kid remembered the conversation and he kept that throughout his incarceration and his probation. So, when Pete said 'come up for a tryout,' he said yes. He took the second flight of his life and the first in 10 years Wednesday night after he did 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' came to Seattle, worked out Thursday morning, and Pete Carroll said they invited him back to mini camp next week."

You can read more about Banks' rape accusation and how he was exonerated at the website for KTLA-TV.

Could he make the team?

Art says the hope is that Banks will at least make the 90-man roster that will go into training camp this summer.

"His chances are, I would have to say, fairly minimal because he doesn't have the upscale training at this level of football yet. But he's a tremendous athlete and Pete (Carroll) said he's got all the physical tools but he's way, way behind. He's 26 so he's physically mature, but he just hasn't had much football over the last several years."

People are pulling for him

Art says, even if Banks doesn't make the 53-man roster at the start of the season, there's a chance he could make the six-man practice squad. And he's rooting for him.

"He is intelligent, articulate, poised and completely beyond bitterness and anger over this whole situation. He said something very poignant Thursday. He said, 'I am more appreciative of this chance than I am deserving.' And I thought 'Wow, in the era of the entitled athlete, what a powerful thing to say.' If there is a cosmic referee out there making judgments, let's hope that this kid gets on a 53-man roster this fall because it will be just a tremendous story and a little bit of redemption for a quality person."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.