TODAY   |  April 06, 2013

Banks scores NFL contract after exoneration for crime

“I am officially an Atlanta Falcon,” said Brian Banks. “To be able to think about it, breathe it, live it is something I just don't want to take for granted.” After spending five years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, the 27-year-old is finally fulfilling his dream. TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> for more than five years, brian banks wore a prison uniform for a crime he said he did not commit.

>> this is an unbelievable story. quite a run now for banks, with a second chance at making his childhood dream come true . for brian banks , these are images of resilience and redemption.

>> i am officially an atlanta falcon, to be able to relive the dream i once had, to be able to think about it, breathe it, live it, it's something i don't want to take for granted.

>> reporter: this week, nearly a year after being exonerated for a crime in which he spent five years behind bars .

>> we dismiss this case.

>> reporter: he signed a contract with the atlanta falcons , fulfilling a dream that for much of his adult life seemed out of reach.

>> even though we were hopeful that my case would be overturned and i would be exonerated i was still living a day-to-day life of a sex offender , convicted and parolee.

>> reporter: banks says he took the advice of his attorney and pleaded no contest, leaving behind a scholarship to play football at the university of southern california . after serving his sentence, his accuser contacted him on facebook and in a secretly taped meeting with a private investigator, who is a friend of banks, she confessed to the tru truth.

>> did he rape you?

>> no, he did not rape me.

>> that confession set him free and for every minute since, trained with nfl teams to get bas back his speed and stamina.

>> the newest linebacker for the atlanta falcons .

>> reporter: and today, a new start for a man who went into prison a boy.

>> nfl is just the beginning of my start. you're going to see a man of determination, of willpower. just someone who is going to work hard to be the best that they can.

>> it's a great story. later this month banks begin off-season workouts with the falcons and has become a spokesperson with the innocence project , who works to release the wrongly accused. now here's lester.

>> erica, thanks.