It has been more than three months since we reported on(see report below). Unfortunately, Brian didn't stick at any of the NFL camps that he had attended this summer and it did indeed look like his football dreams were over. Then along came the United Football League (UFL). It has been reported today that Brian is close to signing with the Las Vegas Locomotives giving the linebacker one more shot to play some pro football. Head Coach Jim Fassell says, "it gives him an opportunity in football that was denied him years ago." Go get 'em Brian!!
Brian Banks will always remember the first few years of the new millenium. That is when he went from being a high school football star with college and NFL aspirations to serving a prison term after being accused and convicted of rape and kidnapping.
In 2002 Brian was a 17 year old middle linebacker at Long Beach Poly. He had already been awarded a full scholarship at USC where the football program was being resurrected by head coach. Before it could become reality, Brian's dream turned into a nightmare. One day between classes the football star was "making out" with classmate Wanetta Gibson. In an interview with ABC Brian said, "We went to an area on campus that is known as a make-out spot. We kissed, we groped, we touched, but we never had sex. We ended things on a good note. I went back to class. By the end of the day I was in custody."
Brian was charged with kidnapping and rape. With Wanetta poised to testify against him, his own lawyers suggested that he accept a plea deal or else face the real possibility of a very long prison sentence. The innocent 17 year old pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 6 years wth an additional 5 years of probation during which he would be forced to wear a GPS device that monitored his every move. He was also now a registered sex offender. As for his accuser, Wanetta Gibson sued the school district for "failing to provide a safe environment." She was awarded $1.5 Million. This is where the story takes a major turn.
In 2011 Brian received a facebook friend request. Thousands and thousands more receive many friend requests daily. However, I don't think that many could match the sheer absurdity of this one. Any ideas? Yup, you guessed it! The friend request came from the woman who had falsely accused him of rape nine years earlier. Wanetta Gibson wanted to let "bygones be bygones." She claimed to be more mature now and offered to help Brian clear his name. There was one catch though. Wanetta did not want to talk to lawyers...she had 1.5 million reasons to stay out of the legal arena. With the help of a private investigator Brian met with Wanetta and secretly recorded their conversations. During the course of those conversations Wanetta Gibson admitted to lying about the rape. The recordings were given to the California Innocence Project who made arrangements for them to be heard by the same judge who had sentenced Brian back in 2002. Ten long years after first being falsely accused and convicted, Brian's name was finally cleared.
Remember Pete Carroll? The head coach of USC went on to win a national championship in 2005 when his USC Trojans defeated the Texas Longhorns in the Rose Bowl on January 4, 2006. It's probable that Brian Banks would have been on that team if not for the false rape charge. In 2012 Pete Carroll is now the head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. On June 7, 26 year old Brian Banks worked out for Pete Carroll. Carrol says that Brian showed him enough to receive an invitation to Seattle's mini camp. It has been reported that there is also interest in Brian from the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins.
The odds may be long against Brian sticking with the Seahawks or another NFL team. However, it would be a mistake to count this young man out. How can you not pull for this guy? If the NFL does not work out for Brian he has another job offer from another professional league. Derrick Hall, the CEO of baseball's, has offered Brian a job with the team. Hall went on to say, "I just thought that this guy needs a fresh start. I saw a very bright, articulate, handsome kid. Great smile. You see a lot of maturity. You see a kid who has been through adversity and can handle it. He's lost ten years of his life and it's time for some good things to happen to him." We could not have said it any better.