FALCONS LB BRIAN BANKS MAKES NFL DEBUT, AND CHERISHES THE MOMENT - Atlanta Falcons linebacker Brian Banks, who spent five years in prison after being accused of rape, made his long-awaited NFL debut Thursday night. 

Banks entered the Falcons preseason opener against the Bengals in the fourth quarter and quickly registered a tackle. The Falcons lost 34-10.

“It was out of control,” Banks said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Just running out there – the flames, the cheers, the crowd. I wasn’t nervous at all, but just the emotion of running through the tunnel, the adrenaline that comes with it, is better than any roller-coaster ride you could get on.”

Banks, 28, spent five years in prison and five years on parole after he was wrongly accused and convicted of rape while he was a highly regarded college football recruit at Poly Tech High School in Long Beach, California.

Banks was recruited by the USC Trojans and had dreams of playing in the NFL at the time of his convicted, but that dream was put on hold until he was finally exonerated in 2012.

Banks signed with the Falcons in April. Four months later, he finally appeared in a game, albeit an exhibition contest. He’s considered a longshot to make the roster. But he may get another chance when the Falcons take on the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 15.

“Do I have to make it? I don’t feel like I have to, but I want to – not just for myself but for my family, for the people who’ve supported me and believed in me,” Banks said. “For people who’ve lost hope in their own (life). If I can be some kind of vessel, to show people that no matter the hard time you experienced, you can still succeed, I want to put out that positive energy, to never quit and never give up.” (Photo: atlantafalcons.com)

Submitted by Keith Clay