Ten years ago, Brian Banks was on the cusp of being a football star.
One of the most prized high school linebacker recruits in the country, Banks had committed to play for Pete Carroll at USC. At the time, the Trojans were one of the pre-eminent teams in college football and had a reputation for developing players and sending them off to the NFL to earn their fame and fortune. Banks was expected to be another in that growing legacy.
However, it came crashing down for him 10 years ago as the 16-year-old high school football star at Long Beach Poly High School became a prisoner. Banks was charged and convicted of rape and kidnapping. He was sent to prison for the crime, served a five-year term, and after his release had to sign up as a registered sex offender. Throughout that time, Banks maintained his innocence.
Last year, the California Innocence Project took on his case. As part of its investigation, Banks’ accuser recanted her story. Last month, Banks was exonerated of the crime, taken off the sex offender list and, for the first time since being a high school junior, was truly a free man.
Despite not playing organized football since high school, Banks has become a redemption story as he looks to re-start his dream of playing in NFL – possibly with the Vikings.
Last week, Banks was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Thursday he worked out for Carroll, who now coaches the Seattle Seahawks. On Friday, he worked out with the San Diego Chargers. In a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Banks’ attorney said that he has been contacted by the Vikings, 49ers and Redskins for potential private workouts at their team facilities.
It’s unclear if being away from the game for so long has eroded Banks’ skills – neither Seattle nor San Diego has offered him a contract, but Seattle did an extend an invitation to the team’s minicamp next week. Whether the Vikings will see enough in one workout (or if it happens at all) still makes Banks a huge long shot. But, given what he’s been through already, he’s the kind of player that is easy to cheer for, whether it’s with the Vikings or someone else.
The NFL is investigating last month’s arrest of Vikings fullback Jerome Felton on DUI charges. If the league is going to render a potential suspension decision, it likely would come prior to the 2012 regular-season opener. Felton is “in the system” already for having a previous DUI conviction on his record.
So far no Vikings have made the NFL’s Top 100 list of players expected to be the best in 2012 (or at least the most important to their teams). Given that Ndamukong Suh checked in at No. 38 in this weekend’s installment of the top 100 list, it seems clear that Kevin Williams isn’t going to be on the top 100 list and it seems just as clear that Percy Harvin won’t be either, reducing the potential number of Vikings that will end up on the list down to two – Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson.
Of the 70 players announced on the top 100 list, the Vikings have none. The only other team to make the dubious claim is Jacksonville – expect to see Maurice Jones-Drew’s name come up soon.
Of the 70 players already named, perhaps the NFL agrees with the Eagles Dream Team slogan. Philadelphia leads the way with six players having already being named to the team – Nnamdi Asomugha, DeSean Jackson, Michael Vick, Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Jason Peters. Considering that LeSean McCoy hasn’t been named yet and Vonta Leach has, it would appear as though the Eagles will have at least seven on the list before all is said and done – individual talent doesn’t always breed team success.
Following the Eagles are the Broncos with five, which could have been six because Tim Tebow (the only Jets player to be named so far) was traded to New York after Peyton Manning (No. 50 on the list arrived). Five other teams have already had four players named – the Packers, Bears, Giants, Saints and 49ers.
Through 70 players, 44 of the players named so far have been from the NFC, with just 26 from the AFC.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.