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Brian Banks speaks in Seattle on behalf of Innocence Project

Brian Banks works out for the Seattle Seahawks in June 2012. (AP Photo)

Brian Banks spent five years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, until he was exonerated in 2012 with help from the Innocence Project.

After tryouts with the Seattle Seahawks and five other NFL teams, this week he signed with the Atlanta Falcons and is getting a chance to make their 53-man roster for next season.

Banks tells KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show having someone like Pete Carroll believe in him enough to give him a shot was a surreal experience.

“I just had the hopes that upon my exoneration, that somebody would hear my plea for an opportunity. I had no clue it would be Coach Carroll.”

Before his exoneration, Banks says he wasn’t really training on a football field, mostly just working on his body composition. So working out with the Seahawks wasn’t exactly easy.

“That was a bit of a wake up call to see what was going to be required on my end.”

Now he’s with Atlanta.

“It’s nothing short of a blessing. I have a fond interest in birds. […] It started as I wanted to be a part of the Eagles, wanted to be a part of the Seahawks, and now I see myself as a dirty bird.”

Banks says he’s thankful for wherever this path takes him.

The Falcon was a keynote speaker for the Innocence Project Thursday night at the Herban Feast.

Banks pleaded no contest on the advice of a lawyer after a childhood friend falsely accused him of attacking her on their high school campus. A judge threw out the conviction that sent Banks to prison for more than five years.

KIRO Radio’s Libby Denkmann and staff contributed to this report.

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