Living in the Seattle area, I sometimes shake my head in complete befuddlement over moves made by our NFL team, the Seahawks. Don't get me wrong; I'm a season ticket holder and have great pride in our stadium's record of causing the league's highest percentage per game of opposing team false starts. Seattle has held the record for six years running, averaging over two false starts per home game. There's even an entire page on the Seahawks' website devoted to this false start record, along with the amount of noise produced by the boisterous, enthusiastic, deafening Seattle crowd. The noise level at the stadium can reach 112 decibels, just under the roar of a Boeing 747, which comes in at 130. Those levels are why, win or lose, I'm neither able to speak nor hear properly after attending a game. When you're not often in post-season play, you resort to pride in these sorts of statistics.
Football isn't the only arena where a false start can happen. According to the dictionary, a false start can also be "an unsuccessful attempt to begin something (as in a career)." Recently, in this off-season, I found myself proud of the Seahawks' involvement in a career false start by a man named Brian Banks. Back in 2002, Brian Banks was an up-and-coming high school footballer with a full-ride scholarship offer from USC, among other top schools. Before this dream could be realized, Brian Banks was accused of raping another student on the grounds of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. His accuser got a large settlement from the school district. Brian Banks took a plea deal to avoid the potential of decades in prison. He served a six-year sentence, was released from prison and required to register as a sex offender.
Then, in 2011, Banks' accuser, Wanetta Gibson, contacted him on Facebook and agreed to meet with Banks and a private investigator. During this meeting, Gibson recanted. Her concern, however, did not appear to be over the years of life and career she'd falsely taken from Brian Banks. Her concern was over the money she'd falsely taken from the Long Beach Unified School District and her dismay at how long it would take her to pay it back. I imagine paying back the money could take years of her life.
At any rate, this is where Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks enter the story. Carroll came to Seattle in January of 2010 from USC, where he remembered a 17-year-old rising high school athlete named Brian Banks. Recently, Carroll and the Seahawks gave Banks a closed try-out. He did well enough to be invited back to the Seahawks mini-camp this week. At the announcement, Carroll said, "This is a great illustration for us why people deserve a second chance because of what he's overcome." When Brian Banks was asked about all he's overcome and the natural bitterness anyone could understand, he said, "I've been asked that question a couple of times and my answer's always been 'no.; You know I can hold onto that, that bitterness and that anger. It won't get me anywhere."
I don't know if Brian Banks is going to end up in a Seahawks uniform. The jury, as they say, is still out and he's trying out with other teams. But I do know this. I'm extremely proud of my Seahawks, Coach Carroll and most of all, Brian Banks. I'm going to love being at the stadium next season with the crazy Seattle fans, stomping and yelling and screaming at the literal top of our lungs for our team. I would love to see Brian Banks run out on that field. I would love for Seattle to have a part in reversing Brian Banks' false start in football so many years ago. If this happens, I can almost guarantee the reception he'll receive on that first home game will break our record of 112 decibels and this city will roar like a full-throttled 747.
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