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That led to a crazy couple of days where teams and players had no rules to guide them. On Friday, the NFL opened up team facilities to players for the first time in nearly two months.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of players showed up, exchanging smiles and high-fives with their teammates and picking up playbooks from their coaches.

Tony Romo and Jason Witten even did some sprints on a Dallas Cowboys practice field.

“From the players’ standpoint, I think everybody is pleased we’re not locked out anymore, especially the rookies,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on CNBC, his first public comments about the dispute since he became one of the 10 plaintiffs in a federal antitrust lawsuit still pending against the NFL.

Players from Seattle to New York warmly greeted a little bit of normalcy in the most unusual offseason in league history, fully aware that it might not last very long.

It didn’t.

Attorneys for the players had argued against a stay of Nelson’s order, saying the owners failed to offer any evidence that they will suffer irreparable harm if the lockout is not restored. They also suggested that the public and the players, with their short careers, are at far more risk when the $9 billion business is stalled.

“Professional football is part of the fabric of American life,” the attorneys wrote. “Because the uncontroverted record of evidence shows that the 2011 season could be canceled or significantly curtailed without an injunction in place, a stay may deprive the public of professional football altogether.”

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AP Football Writers Arnie Stapleton and Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Dennis Waszak, Bob Baum, Tom Canavan, Stephen Hawkins, Mike Cranston, R.B. Fallstrom, Mark Long and Joseph White and freelancer Warren Mayes in St. Louis contributed to this report.