The Atlanta Falcons signed linebacker Brian Banks, a former standout high-school recruit who spent five years in jail after being falsely accused of rape.
Banks, 27, unsuccessfully tried out for several National Football League teams last year without getting signed to a contract. He joined the United Football League’s Las Vegas Locomotives, playing in two games and recording one tackle.
After being accused of rape by a former Long Beach, California, high school classmate at age 16, Banks pleaded guilty on the advice of his attorney and spent five years in jail, the Associated Press reported at the time. He then spent five years on probation before his accuser contacted him and said she lied. The case was dismissed by a judge in May, AP said.
“We are pleased to have Brian join our team,” Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said on the team’s website. “He has worked extremely hard for this chance over the last year and he has shown us that he is prepared for this opportunity.”
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Banks had committed to playing at the University of Southern California before being jailed. He would have to make the Falcons’ 53-man roster to play in the NFL.