Brian Banks has overcome the unthinkable to get to where he is now, but the linebacker says his ultimate goal is still ahead, and Thursday's preseason game against the Bengals is an important step in achieving that.
Banks, who lost 10 years of his freedom because of a crime he didn't commit, said that although participating in an NFL training camp is brand new for him, so far his experience has been extremely positive.
"I'm just taking it all in as it comes," he said after the team's practice on Wednesday. "It's been a good opportunity, good experiences. The team has been really accepting and the coaches have been really patient with me learning the plays. The organization itself, altogether it's just been good."
Despite the obstacles he's had to get through to be where he is now, Banks' ultimate goal is to make the 53-man roster. Achieving this is important not only because this is the dream he once thought was unreachable, but because he hopes his determination will serve as inspiration to other people.
"It's definitely the way for me to respond to the things I've experienced in life by not giving up, pushing forward to get to the dreams that I once lost," Banks said. "But beyond that, I think it's just a statement that I think needs to be made. What you go through, no matter how hard life gets, you can still pursue your dreams and be successful and I hope to inspire people by what I'm doing."
Banks, who also expressed these sentiments in his second post on his blog, added that his journey to get to his main goal involves not only physical preparation, but mental preparation, as well.
"The game is a physical game but it's just as much as a mental game as it is physical," he said. "Training your body, training your mind, being in the playbook, being in the film room, but also being in the weight room and on the field and learning. Collectively, one side is not greater than the other."
With the Falcons first preseason game set for Thursday, Banks knows this is the time to continue to prove himself, while still taking in the reality that he's finally getting the opportunity he always deserved.
"I just can't wait. I'm so excited. I'm just thankful for the opportunity," Banks said. "It's been a long time coming, from where I've been to where I am now. I'm just looking forward to Thursday and I'm just going to give it all I have."