Thomas Dimitroff said it wasn’t a charity offering by the Atlanta Falcons to offer Brian Banks a contract.
The Falcons signed him earlier this week, adding the former California prep star to the mix. Banks did not play football in college as he served more than five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He had been accused of rape and kidnapping and the woman eventually admitted she had made the story up.
Dimitroff said the team took a look at Banks and believed he had improved from where he was last year when the team checked him out. Dimitroff expanded on the subject.
“Combine all his character, drive and work ethic with all the training he has done lately – this isn’t a guy who is just slopping around,” Dimitroff said during an NFL Network appearance, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He is 6-2, 250 pounds, runs in the low 4.8s (which) he can get better at. His functional movement screens were very good. We like how he is developing. This isn’t a charity case. This is a great feel-good story but also one we believe he can come in here and compete.
“We had him in our camp last fall and we like how he is progressing. The timing wasn’t right for us at that moment and we decided we were going to look at it at the middle of the season. We continued to push it off a little bit, just thinking about the timing of this football team and allowing him to get more and more time under his belt to get in shape. He worked out well for us, he looks good and we are looking forward to providing him an opportunity to make this football team.”
It will be a long shot for Banks to make the roster. He’s facing the kind of uphill battle that undrafted rookie free agents must tackle.
“He knows it is tough,” Dimitroff said. “Everyone knows that when they step through the doors here that it is a long journey. He is well on his way to achieving what he wants to achieve in his journey but there is still a long distance to go. He understands that, we understand that. As far as putting a probability on it, it is difficult to say. Given his character, his makeup and what he has gone through – much more than you or I would even imagine going through – that speaks volumes of his perseverance and drive to continue to learn and grow.
“He has been away from the game for a while but we are confident he will work very, very hard when the time is appropriate to learn the system and do whatever he can to increase his chances to make the football team.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune