"It was out of control. Just running out there, the flames, the cheers and the crowd, it was emotional; it really was," Banks said of running through the tunnel before Thursday night's game. "I wasn’t nervous at all. I wasn’t over-excited or anything, but just running out of that tunnel, I mean, the adrenaline that comes with that is just indescribable. It’s better than any rollercoaster ride you can ever get on."It was a really good feeling, and then just to be on the sideline and to hear all the veterans tell you,'Man when your turn comes, when they call your number just play.' Just the support and love from everybody is more than I can ask for."
Banks, 28, spent five years in prison and five years on parole after being wrongly accused and convicted of raping a female classmate at Poly Tech High School in Long Beach, California. Banks was a five-star recruit with aspirations of an NFL career at the time of his conviction. When he was exonerated in 2012, Banks began to pursue those NFL dreams, beginning with a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks, whose head coach, Pete Carroll, had recuited Banks to USC.
Banks was signed by the Falcons in April and worked mostly at middle linebacker during the OTAs and training camp. In his preseason debut, Banks played in 12 snaps, all on defense, and was officially credited with one tackle in the fourth quarter."It was good to get some reps in," said Banks. "I know the game wasn’t really where we wanted it to be, so I understood the whole aspect of how rotation would probably be, but coach still found some time to get me in there and get some reps. So, I was happy about that.
"I was motivated. I was like I got to pick up a tackle. I got to get at least one tackle. I picked up two, so it was pretty cool."
Banks' story will continue next Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.