The story of Brian Banks preceded him for years before he joined the NFL. He spent 10 years in prison for a wrongful conviction. When he was released, his desire -- even at 28 -- to have an NFL career had never died.
Because of his remarkable saga, he's mulling over 100 book and film offers. But he also sorts through a stack of mail from many who say they, too, were wrongly found guilty.
"I get letters from many guys who are still incarcerated who say I've been an inspiration," Banks told USA TODAY Sports. "One from Edward Contreras, who is incarcerated in Southern California. I know the California Innocence Project is working on his exoneration now.
"He said I'm definitely giving him hope that he might be able to come home from prison one day, too."
Banks has become involved in the California Innocence Project, which helps inmates prove they were wrongfully convicted.
"Brian literally helped with two," said Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project. "Brian spoke out about Danny Larsen's case. (Larsen) was wrongfully convicted of possession of a dagger in a Los Angeles parking lot. Brian spoke at a march to the attorney general's office, and Danny was exonerated last May. Brian did the same with Jason Purasal, an American locked up in Nicaragua â one of these cases more about politics than law. Brian helped bring a lot of media attention."
Brooks noted how Banks and his mother, Leomia Myers, took part in a 712-mile march from San Diego to Sacramento in May to protest the incarceration of Contreras, whose case parallels Banks'.
As for his on-field fight, a spot on the 53-man roster might come down to the Falcons' last two preseason games.
"If he doesn't make it, Brian knows he gave it every chance," said ex-NFL coach Jim Fassel, who coached Banks for two games in 2012 with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct United Football League. "The guy will be successful in anything because of his amazing attitude."
-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor