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Former USC recruit, exonerated convict, to tryout for Redskins

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Former USC recruit, exonerated convict, to tryout for Redskins

Former USC recruit Brian Banks is expected to tryout with the Redskins, according to ESPN.

Banks, a middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, had his football career cut short in 2002 when he plead no contest to a schoolmate's false accusation of rape at the age of 17. Banks spent his next five years in a jail cell.

Last week Banks was completely exonerated of his rape and kidnapping conviction after a ten-year nightmare when his accuser admitting to lying about a charge she made at sixteen years of age.

While fighting his case in 2003 --a battle that cost his mother both her condo and her car-- Banks worked toward completing his high school degree. Despite his grim circumstances, Banks never gave up on himself and his future while in prison. He took college courses. He remained athletic. He focused on life beyond bars.

"Those first few months were the hardest for me," Banks said in an ESPNLA interview. "There were times where I just wanted to give up and give in to the life and environment of prison but it was at that time that I realized: I'm in here for something I didn't do. I'm not even supposed to be here.

"With that in mind I vowed to myself to focus on the betterment of me, regardless of the environment. I wanted to focus on my attitude and outlook of what I wanted to be regardless of what people thought of me or labeled me to be. I just focused on bettering myself and moving forward ... it's gotten me to where I am today: a free man with a good heart and strong mind."

Banks has been working vigorously with personal trainers since October in the hopes of achieving a dream he was forced to shelve for a decade.

"I live by the saying, 'Good things come to those who hustle while they wait,'" explained Banks. "There is nothing in this world that I feel is too difficult for me, or too hard for me to accomplish because the hardest thing for me to do was to become free --and I accomplished that." said Banks. "Everything else is sky's the limit."

With Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander and recent additions Keenan Robinson and Jonathan Goff, the Redskins will probably just be looking to add some inexpensive padding to their depth charts at the linebacker position, which could be a great scenario for both the Redskins and Banks.

"I'm confident in what I've done so far," said Banks. "I know that if given the opportunity to show my talents any team would be impressed with what I can do, despite all the things that I've been through these last ten years."

Banks is also expected to workout with the Seahawks, Chiefs and Dolphins.

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Las Vegas announced as official 2020 NFL Draft location

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Las Vegas announced as official 2020 NFL Draft location

DALLAS -- The NFL draft is heading to Las Vegas for 2020.

It almost certainly will arrive before the Raiders do.

"We believe the draft will be the kickoff to our inaugural season," said Raiders owner Mark Davis, who is moving the team from Oakland.

The league announced Wednesday at an owners meeting that the city where the Raiders will begin play in September 2020 will host the draft that April.

"Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and will provide a tremendous experience for the NFL and its fans," Davis added.

The NFL began to bring the draft to different cities in 2015, when it was in Chicago. It was held there in 2016, too, then went to Philadelphia in 2017. Last April, the Cowboys hosted it in their stadium in Arlington, Texas, and next year it will be in Nashville.

Other cities in the running for 2020 were Kansas City and Cleveland, which was partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio.

"We remain committed to hosting an NFL draft in Northeast Ohio and will continue to work closely with the NFL to identify the ideal opportunity for our fans, our city and the league," the Browns said in a statement.

"There are many teams and cities across the NFL who are capable of creating an exceptional draft experience for fans, including the Titans and Raiders, and we are still hopeful we may ultimately share that honor in the future."

April 23-25 will be the dates for the Las Vegas draft.

"The events in the draft are going to take place on and around the Las Vegas Strip," said Peter O'Reilly, the league's senior vice president of events. "We'll take advantage of some of the large spaces around the Strip as well as some of the iconic locations that will provide an incredible backdrop for the draft. We're certainly highlighting the Raiders' new stadium that will be just months away from occupying starting the 2020 season."

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'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

There are a ton of positives, from specific examples like what Derrius Guice has been able to do with Redskins supporters since being drafted or more general things like getting the chance to see what your favorite 'Skin is up to on an off day, that have resulted from the growing relationship between players and fans through social media. 

But with that increased connection comes increased volatility. Now, you don't have to be within earshot at a stadium to get on someone wearing Burgundy and Gold for a mistake they made or a loss they participated in. 

It's that second part — the constant criticism that largely goes unseen — that upsets Chris Thompson.

So, while he was responding to a question about Mason Foster's leaked Instagram messages, the running back made sure to comment on life as an athlete on social media overall.

"Dealing with the fans, it's hard because we're all human," Thompson said. "It's real tough when people keep coming at you and saying negative stuff towards you like we're not human beings and we're not supposed to say something at some point."

The veteran, who has distanced himself from things like Instagram and Twitter and has noticed how his mental state has improved because of that distancing, knows that ignoring the negativity is the proper route to take. It's far from the easiest route, though.

"Once you say something back to them it's like, 'Oh, you're not supposed to say anything,'" Thompson explained. "No, we're all human. If you say something, sometimes you should expect a response. And then on the flip side, there are some times we just gotta hold our tongue, and it's really, really, really, really hard sometimes. You don't know how hard it is."

Jonathan Allen is another Redskin who tries to limit his exposure to certain apps and sites these days. The fan interaction is something he enjoys, but in the end, it doesn't take much for those interactions to sour.

"The way I look at it, 99-percent of fans are great," Allen said. "They're supportive of what you do, they're always gonna love the Redskins. But there's gonna be that 1-percent of fans who aren't like that, and those are the fans that are gonna ruin it for everybody and give players the bad image of all the fans."

Thompson told one story of a recent message he got online from someone who blamed him for ruining his fantasy season by missing games due to injury. The 28-year-old couldn't comprehend how someone could write that to him while he's battling through broken ribs on both sides and an ankle issue.

Sadly, it was just one example that stood out among countless others, all of which make up the uglier side of technology in 2018.

"Where is the humanity?" Thompson said. "It sucks because we're not really looked at as humans. We're kind of robots. We're not supposed to have feelings, we're only supposed to show emotion on the field and everything should be about football, football, football."

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