Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Experience

I am but a man of experiences. Just like any other. A man of many stories. A man on a mission.

Flowery Branch, GA
Training camp with the Atlanta Falcons ended today. This morning, before taking to the field for our last practice, I walked onto the field alone. With no purpose but to reflect. I sat and stared off into the mist that covered the fields. I looked back on each day of camp. How hard did I work? How much effort did I apply? Was I completely focused? Did I leave it all on the field?

A man of experiences. And an amazing experience this was. Post wrongful conviction, never did I imagine being here. NEVER did I imagine playing in  an actual NFL game... How amazing God is, I played in 2 NFL games! And as of now, 2 more to go.

A glimpse of where I should have been, could have been, 7 years ago. The feeling of game day preparation. The energy that flows throughout the locker room. The calmness before war. Piece by piece, armor upon armor, adorned with the Falcons seal. As I ran out of that tunnel and onto the field for game one at the Dome, smoke and flames stretched into the sky,  and I was reassured of my freedom. I was reminded of how thankful I was to the most high. A feeling unlike any other. A rush... an addiction.

I've learned so much throughout camp, and realized how much more learning I have to do. The learning curve was definitely unique for me. While being taught intermediate techniques and principles of the game, I also had to quickly learn the basic 101 intel of a professional linebacker. A new challenge lies before me, and so long as there is opportunity, I will continue to chip away at it until I succeed.

I dont know what lies ahead. But I do know what has been done. I worked hard. Harder than I've ever worked before. I gave camp every ounce of effort I could. I was focused as much as one could be in these shoes. And everyday, I left it all on the field, the good and the bad. I'm so thankful to Mr. Arthur Blank, a giving man. Coach Smith and Mr. Dimitroff. Thank you for this opportunity, this life altering experience. You've given me a chance, and an extended family. My respects to you all.

Two games left in pre-season. Two more weeks to get better. Two more weeks to prove that I belong here. Two more games...

I know where I want to be, and God knows my heart. Nothing last forever, and it is unknown how long things will last. So today, in this very moment, I did it. I won. I accomplished what was at one point unobtainable. I persevered. I worked hard. I gave it my all. I am unbroken. I


Twitter: @BrianBanksFree

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beyond Me

I remember sitting in a prison cell thinking to myself repeatedly...daily, " I just want to be free. I just want to be normal..." I would say the same thing over and over again to myself when finally home yet still on parole, confined by a GPS tracking device on my ankle, a parole officer who wanted nothing more than to send me back to prison, and a life not mine.

12 days into mini camp with the Atlanta Falcons. I still cant believe I'm here. Still cant believe the possibilities. Yes, still taken back by all that I've experienced. I mean, what a life.  From riots, fights, lockdowns, and strip searches, to defensive schemes with Coach Nolan and Coach Pires, sharing a locker room with Matt Ryan, Sean Weatherspoon, Tony Gonzalez, and Asante Samuel's (the list goes on) wearing the Atlanta Falcons seal. Some may call this a dream come true. I call it a dream almost fulfilled.

Yes, I am here. But I am not there. I wear #53, but still have yet to earn a spot on the 53 man roster. Everything that is in me is in my efforts towards accomplishing what many call the impossible. My heart, my focus, my mind, and will. But there is also fear. I don't fear much at all, but one of my biggest fears in life is failure. Making this team means so much to me. So much to my family. But becoming an Atlanta Falcon is bigger than football. I repeat, this is BIGGER than football. And it is bigger than me. Far beyond me. This is for the forgotten. The hopeless. Those who have forgotten how to be inspired, those who could use a little more.

 I stood in front of over 100 wrongfully convicted men and women in Charlotte, NC.  Most had severed over 15 years behind bars from crimes uncommitted. 20 years. 30 years. And as I stood in front of them, all I could see was lives ruined, time lost, souls forgotten. I began to think of the many others still incarcerated for crimes uncommitted. And all the less fortunate ones of the world.

I think of my mother constantly. And how she sacrificed her home and car for my freedom. My family, that fact that we still struggle even today despite how things may seem.

Making this team brings forth a voice. A statement. Never quit, never give up on your dreams, and never say never. Most of all, a mighty example of a spiritual force that can do any, all, and the impossible byway of faith and belief.

This is beyond me now, I am only but a vessel. The proof is in the supporters, the cheers, the countless well wishes, the prayers from you all.... The fear of failure.

" I just want to be free. I just want to be normal..."

Well, I'm free. God is good. But I guess it's safe to safe I've surpassed normal.


F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real

Game 1 vs. CIN Bengals This Thursday.