Brian Banks signs with Falcons, gets second chance at NFL dream

Brian Banks went to prison (wrongly after being accused of rape) before he could ever fulfill his dream of playing football at USC and making the leap to the NFL. When he was finally exonerated after five years of imprisonment, teams found it too late and too risky to take a shot on the linebacker. But now he's getting his chance.

But Banks was signed by the Falcons on Wednesday morning, as first reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.

“We are pleased to have Brian join our team,” Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. “We had a chance to work him out last year and have been monitoring his progress since then. He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity. We are happy that Brian will have a chance to live out his dream of playing in the NFL and we look forward to seeing him on the field.”

Glazer, who's been working out with Banks "two weeks after he was exonerated" said that he "promised [Banks] we wouldn't stop until someone signed him."

Banks got looks from teams last offseason, with the Seahawks bringing him in for a tryout because Pete Carroll believed the linebacker deserved a "second chance" at his dreams and the 49ers giving him some run as well.

But this was just months -- weeks even -- after Banks was released from prison. Banks found himself on "standby" when it came to the NFL and eyed the UFL as a possible option for his future.

He also trained for another shot at the NFL and it finally came -- there's a good reason why Banks felt so good in the a.m. on Wednesday.

It's hard to really fathom how much something like this means for Banks. He spent five years in prison for something he didn't do. He lost some of his prime years as a result of a false accusation.

Which is why he should be running around and screaming for joy on Wednesday.

There's no guarantee that Banks actually ends up on the team. He's still probably got a longish climb to make the roster, but at the very least he's going to have a shot to make his dream come true.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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