Brian Banks got his dream of an NFL career back when he was signed by the Atlanta Falcons last week.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff insists signing Banks wasn't an act of charity or some publicity stunt. Banks lost 10 years of his football career over a crime he didn't commit, but the Falcons believe he can contribute.

Banks is a longshot, no doubt. It only adds to his drive.

"I'm well aware of what people think about this," Banks told SI.com's Peter King. "That's not something I can control. All I know is I have been given a chance. As coach (Mike) Smith and Mr. Dimitroff told me, 'We didn't bring you here for nothing. There's no reason for us to bring you in, unless we think you have a chance to help us.'

"But when people say I really don't have a chance, it fuels me. I do have to cover some ground, but what I'm happy about right now is that even though I am 27, I'm a young 27."