Brian Banks, the former high school star linebacker recently exonerated for a crime he didn’t commit, is getting more than just one chance at reviving his NFL dreams.
Earlier this week, Banks, who spent more than five years in prison on a six-year term for an incident that occurred during high school before his accuser recanted, scored a workout with the Seattle Seahawks that resulted in a formal invitation to the team’s mini-camp next week.
It was Pete Carroll, the Seahawks’ head coach, who was at USC when the Trojans were scouting him, who offered him the scholarship before the incident and subsequent prison term, which explains not only the coach’s interest but maybe some sense of attachment, of honor and duty the coach may feel.
One might think that Banks, now 26 and nearly 10 years removed from organized football, would have jumped at the shot. He is reportedly working out for the San Diego Chargers today and has had interest from at least three other teams. There’s is even a reported job offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Banks’ edge may be with Seattle and Carroll, who has presented himself as incredibly responsible and loyal over the years.
Still, we’ll see what happens. We’re all rooting for him, though the odds are against him. Yes, he’s healthy, athletic and naturally gifted, but so are the dozens who also have free agent tryouts this spring. He has been training for these opportunities and the 6-foot-2, 239-pound linebacker has been clocked in the 4.7-range in the 40-yard dash, solid numbers. Again, he hasn’t played organized football since high school and he’s 26.
At mini-camp, whether in Seattle or San Diego or somewhere else, he will have to catch the eyes of the coaching staff on the field, where there is competition, live action and other equally hungry players in line. He will have to outshine his fellow teammates to secure an invitation to training camp, one last step from the golden ticket: making an NFL roster.
Those of you with a cynical mind will look at Banks’ tryout offers as nothing more than charity. Tryouts, maybe, though it still costs the team some money, mini-camp even more but not a lot. Carroll’s mini-camp invitation ratchets things up a bit. San Diego will have a chance to see what Banks can do and may very well make a similar offer. Banks will have to pick and it’s always nice to have options when job hunting.
There is no charity in training camp. Brian Banks doesn’t want charity, he just wants a shot.