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Aqib Talib opens 'showpiece' athletic training facility

"Look at zero. He's nice. Smooth kid. He'll be a safety for somebody one day."

Giants defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison is watching a few 7-year-olds from Aqib Talib's youth football team, Yellow Jackets United, go through defensive back drills. Harrison has just finished his morning workout at Talib's new training facility and has stuck around to watch the youngsters take the indoor turf field.

And that's what Talib has created just outside of Dallas with A+ D1: A state of the art facility where NFL players train. But also everyday people can get personal training, and youth football programs at the same time can take advantage of everything it has to offer.

"It's like a game," Talib says to me as he gives me a tour of the facility Saturday morning. "I got the same bubble guts I get on game day."

It's an hour before the grand opening in Carrollton, Texas, and Talib is partly nervous and anxious at the same time. This has been years in the making. Talib found out he was traded to the Rams less than 48 hours ago, but it's the furthest thing from his mind.

He hasn't stopped moving since I arrived at the facility over an hour ago. His blacked out Rolls Royce is parked outside, but his hustle resembles that of a businessman who is still trying to make it, which is somewhat true. He's a five-time Pro Bowler and has been playing football his entire life. It's old hat. This is an entirely new challenge.

D1 facilities are all over the country, but this one is different. This one, I'm told, is a "showpiece" for the company. It's unique and it's also Talib's baby.

"I did this," Talib says. "I didn't put people in charge and let somebody else do this thing. This whole thing is important to me. I knew it would be done right if I did it myself."

It's not your average training facility. On top of an indoor turf field, there's also a pristine outdoor field meticulously manicured by a member of the FC Dallas grounds crew and a weight room that was built to resemble that of the Broncos'. Talib added a recovery room that's larger than most around the league, yoga studios, a VIP room for his pro clients, massage rooms, a licensed chiropractor, cryotherapy, sand pits and a full outdoor track.

"What separates this place from a lot of other places is they have all the equipment or even better equipment than the pros use," Harrison told me. "Everything from the weights to the water."

On top of flipping the bill, Talib has gone through years' worth of designs, planning, building and calling on personal favors from a number of connections to make this place fit his vision: A place that goes beyond just trying to resemble an NFL facility. Talib wants it to rival one.

"The season keeps me busy," Talib says. "But right after the season was over each year, boom, I was working on this."

Outside of the three different youth teams that came to work out, over 1,000 people showed up for the grand opening. They took in a tour and enjoyed the DJ and food trucks. Talib also thinks a large number of those visitors showed up to catch a glimpse of his business partner.

"I didn't sales pitch Von (Miller) at all," Talib says of Miller, who is no longer his teammate but is now his business partner for the foreseeable future. "One morning he just called my phone. He said 'Leeb, you're one of my partners. You're one of my best friends in the league bro. I got to be a part of it. Tell me what I can do. Tell me how I can be a part of it.' And then, we just made it happen."

Talib has been involved in youth football for five years. He saw what Deion Sanders was doing and wanted teach those with potential and those that have no chance of making the NFL an NFL experience. He wanted to give kids from 7-12 a chance to travel, have uniforms and now an NFL facility to train in. Having never played youth football as a kid, he's trying to provide all the things he missed out on.

"Ten years from now we want these kids doing their combine training here," Talib said with a smile. "And then going to the NFL and doing their pro training here. That's the ultimate goal here man. See these kids succeed."

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