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    Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters were laughing and joking like old friends shortly after the start of their first day together at the Los Angeles Rams’ training complex.

    The Rams’ opponents might not have that much fun this fall when they face two of the NFL’s best pass defenders in the same secondary.

    The defending NFC West champions kicked off their offseason by acquiring bookend elite cornerbacks in two trades that were formally announced Wednesday. Talib and Peters say they’re thrilled to play under coordinator Wade Phillips on a defense undergoing an intriguing overhaul.

    “These guys are special players [url=http://www.seattleseahawksteamonline.com/rashaad-penny-jersey]Authentic Rashaad Penny Jersey[/url] ,” head coach Sean McVay said. “They bring a great passion for the game. You can see these are both cerebral players, and then they have the physical talents to match up. Guys that love football, these are the types of guys we love to be around.”

    Rams general manager Les Snead has created a seemingly stellar secondary after entering the season with the uncertainty of top cornerback Trumaine Johnson, slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman and starting safety Lamarcus Joyner all heading for free agency.

    They lost Johnson to a lavish deal from the New York Jets, but the Rams re-signed Robey-Coleman, franchised Joyner and swung trades for two cornerbacks with seven combined Pro Bowl selections to play alongside Joyner and safety John Johnson III in a potent starting lineup. Los Angeles even added talented veteran cornerback Sam Shields, who missed last season due to concussions, as a probable backup alongside 2017 starting cornerback Kayvon Webster, who has a long road back from a heel injury.

    Peters has known for nearly three weeks that he was headed out of Kansas City, where he spent his first three NFL seasons. When he heard last week that Talib would join him with the up-and-coming Rams, the Oakland native was thrilled.

    “Oh, let’s do it,” Peters said. “For me, I get to have another All-Pro corner on the other side, so now you don’t know where you’re going to go. And then when you’ve got a safety like Joyner and then you’re adding Sam Shields and you keep Robey? Come on now. It’s just going to be fun. You’ve got to find a way. Pick your poison.”

    Talib and Peters both paid attention last season when McVay and Phillips led this long-struggling franchise to its first winning season since 2003 and its first playoff appearance since 2004. After winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago under Phillips’ direction in Denver [url=http://www.minnesotavikingsteamonline.com/mike-remmers-jersey]Authentic Mike Remmers Jersey[/url] , Talib was eager to be a part of another potential powerhouse.

    “I saw a bunch of guys having fun,” Talib said of watching the Rams last season. “They were playing for somebody who they believed in. You watch half the teams in the league, they just go through the motions and kind of collect a check, but there’s another half of those teams, and playoff teams, they’ve got a coach who they respect, and whatever he’s preaching, he’s got guys believing that they can really go do it.”

    Peters and Talib are two world-class talents with just enough apparent questions surrounding them to make them available to the Rams.

    Peters, who was dismissed from his college team at Washington, argued with an assistant coach late last season with the Chiefs, leading to a one-game suspension. McVay and Snead are confident Peters’ competitiveness is the only reason for the trouble, and he intends to direct that energy toward the Rams’ goals.

    “When we look back into the game, passionate players have always been the ones that got the bad rep of not being a team player and being selfish,” Peters said. “That’s not the case for me. My ultimate goal is to be a winner. I was born a champion.”

    Talib has been in scrapes with the law, his employers and opponents during his 10 professional seasons. His rivalry with receiver Michael Crabtree has attracted the most attention [url=http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-arden-key-jersey]http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-arden-key-jersey[/url] , but teammates also praise his loyalty and competitiveness. McVay, who is 20 days older than the 32-year-old Talib, expects the veteran to be an immediate team leader.

    The additions came at a cost to the Rams, who had to trade defensive captain Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants to make room for Talib.

    “It’s rare to be able to acquire two players of this caliber,” McVay said. “So when the opportunity does present itself, you want to be ready.”

    They’ve been taking action for two weeks now in New Jersey, where basketball great Julius Erving helped kick things off with a $5 bet on the Philadelphia Eagles to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

    Sports betting is here, and it’s not going anywhere soon. States are embracing their newly won right to offer wagers, and fans are responding by lining up at the betting windows to throw a few bucks on their favorite teams.

    And, surprisingly enough to some, the major sports leagues have – so far at least – somehow managed to survive.

    No one has tried to fix anything, as the NFL for years claimed would happen if sports betting was legalized. No one has cried foul over some shenanigans going on in a game.

    And, best of all, no greedy sports league has managed to dip its fingers into the pie.

    That may change if New York eventually passes a sports betting bill that didn’t make the cut with legislators this year. Proposed legislation there calls for a 0.2 percent cut of betting revenue for the sports leagues, which claim they need it to pay for extra expenses associated with legal sports betting.

    It’s a bad idea [url=http://www.officialbluejackets.com/authentic-adidas-seth-jones-jersey]Adidas Seth Jones Jersey[/url] , nothing more than a money grab by leagues that for years decried sports betting as immoral and a threat to their games – until they figured out there might be some money to be made on it.

    But if the anecdotal evidence of two weeks of legal betting in a few states is any indication, there’s a ton of money to be made.

    A report released Wednesday by GamblingCompliance, a Washington-based research firm, predicted sports betting will be legal in 25 to 37 states within five years. Billions of dollars will be wagered, with gross gaming win expected to top $5 billion by 2023 alone.

    That translates into total wagering of some $100 billion a year alone, a staggering figure 20 times what was bet legally in Nevada last year.

    Bookies will get their cut, and so will the states taxing the winnings. The report predicts New Jersey and Pennsylvania will surpass Nevada in sports betting revenue within five years, with just over $300 million in win each, and New York will likely end up being the biggest sports betting market in the nation once legislation is passed there to legalize it – especially if it includes online betting.

    ”Online sports betting in New York is single biggest opportunity we see emerging in next few years,” said James Kilsby, managing director of GamblingCompliance.

    So far, at least, it appears the sports betting market will be robust. Bettors in New Jersey have already embraced the limited rollout there, and five other states are on track to offer betting by the upcoming NFL season.

    Whether the sports leagues end up getting a piece of the action remains to be seen. New Jersey specifically cut the leagues out, not surprising because they fought the state in court for years over efforts to legalize sports betting [url=http://www.officialhockeyjetsshop.com/authentic-adidas-patrik-laine-jersey]Patrik Laine Jersey[/url] , and there is no fee in any of the states on the verge of offering bets.

    But with the so-called integrity fee floundering, the leagues are moving in another direction. The latest plan involves charging for the use of stats generated in their games because, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this month, ”it’s ultimately our intellectual property, and we think we should be compensated for it.”

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said much the same thing at the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas.

    ”If you’re going to allocate for yourself to run a business on our intellectual property and the performance of our athletes and the platform that we put on for our games, we’re entitled to be involved in that,” Bettman said.

    Unfortunately for the leagues, that ship has mostly sailed. Nevada built up a respectable – and profitable – sports betting business over the years with no help from the leagues, who fought sports betting at every turn and often warned about dire moral consequences should it be legalized outside the state.

    For them to now want a cut of the action would be laughable if they weren’t so serious about it.

    The bottom line is the NBA didn’t want anything to do with Las Vegas or legal betting. Neither did Major League Baseball or the NFL, which just a few years ago wouldn’t even allow Las Vegas hotels to advertise on the Super Bowl broadcast because it was fearful that would somehow taint the game.

    To reward them now would be nearly as foolish as banning sports betting was in the first place.

    Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or [url=http://www.officialusafootballs.com/carolina-panthers/customized]Carolina Panthers Customized Jerseys[/url]

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