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Seven weeks ago, a labor dispute threatened to push the NFL season to the sidelines. Instead, the goliaths of gridiron made a glorious return this past week, from the last-second goalstand by the Super Bowl champs Green Bay Packers to Tom Brady’s second-to-no-other-Patriot’s 517 yards passing. The games also paused to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. Though the season is just one week old, fans across the globe are hoping their teams will play in the grand finale next Feb. 5, held for the first time in Indianapolis. -- Lloyd Young
(34 photos total)
Miami Dolphins Brandon Marshall (19) dives over New England Patriots Devin McCourty after catching a pass during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Miami Sept. 12. Hans Deryk/Reuters)

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From Gael Monfils of France reacting to a lost point against Radel Stepanek during the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, to San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval celebrating after hitting a home run off Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels during the ninth inning. These reactions show the level of frustration and joy that athletes and coaches endure in the high pressure world of sports.

 Reactions

1

Gael Monfils of France reacts to a lost point against Radel Stepanek of the Czech Republic during the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic presented by Geico at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on August 7, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

2

Cullen Jenkins #77 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after a sack of quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears in the first half in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. According to reports on July 30, 2011 Jenkins has agreed to a five year deal with $25 million with the Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

3

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia reacts to a lost point against Ayumi Morita of Japan during the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on July 26, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

4

Magdalena Neuner of Germany reacts at the finish area after the women's 15km individual race during the IBU Biathlon World Championships at A.V. Philipenko winter sports centre on March 9, 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

5

Shelvin Mack #1 of the Butler Bulldogs reacts during their game against the Florida Gators in overtime of the Southeast regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

6

Italy's Federica Pellegrini reacts after she competed in the final of the women's 200-metre freestyle swimming event in the FINA World Championships at the indoor stadium of the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on July 27, 2011. She won gold. FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

7

Vera Zvonareva of Russia reacts during her second round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at Porsche Arena on April 20, 2011 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

8

Forward Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Thunder defeated the Grizzlies to advance to the Western Conference Finals. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

9

Will MacKenzie reacts after missing a chip on the 18th hole during the second round of the Reno-Tahoe Open on August 5, 2011 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

10

Donald Young celebrates a point against Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic during the semifinals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic presented by Geico at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on August 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

11

Chris Pontius #13 of D.C. United reacts after missing a shot during a soccer game against the Toronto FC at RFK Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

12

Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he takes off his glove after hitting into an inning ending double play to end the Dodgers scoring threat against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of the baseball game at Dodger Stadium on August 8, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

13

US swimmer Michael Phelps reacts after he competed in the final of the men's 200-metre individual medley swimming event in the FINA World Championships at the indoor stadium of the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on July 28, 2011. He won silver. FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

14

Scott Stallings reacts after making birdie on the first playoff hole to win The Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC on July 31, 2011 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

15

Catriona Matthew of Scotland reacts after playing a bad shot to the 18th during the final round of the Women's British open at Carnoustie in Scotland on July 31 2011. ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

16

Spain's Marcel Granollers celebrates after defeating Spain's Fernado Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 during the ATP tennis tournament on July 31, 2011 in Gstaad. SEBASTIEN FEVAL/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

17

Feyenoord's coach Ronald Koeman reacts during the Dutch Eredivisie football match Excelsior vs Feyenoord on August 5, 2011 in Rotterdam. ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

18

Cologne's Moroccan striker Adil Chihi reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Koeln vs VfL Wolfsburg in the western German city of Cologne on August 6, 2011. PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

19

Tiger Woods reacts after missing a birdie putt on the 8th hole during the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) #

 Reactions

20

France's Gregory Mallet (C) reacts as his team-mates compete in the final of the men's 4x200-metre freestyle relay swimming event in the FINA World Championships at the indoor stadium of the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on July 29, 2011. France won silver. FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

21

Kansas City Royals' Melky Cabrera (53) reacts to being tagged out by Detroit Tigers second baseman Carlos Guillen (9) during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) #

 Reactions

22

AC Milan's Thiago Silva, right, reacts after tackled by Inter Milan's Thiago Motta, left, during Italian Super Cup held at China's National Stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest", in Beijing, China, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. AC Milan defeated Inter Milan 2-1. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #

 Reactions

23

Bayfield High School's John Cusick reacts in dismay after finishing second in the 3A boys' 1600-meter run at the CHSAA State Track and Field Championships at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood, Colo., on Saturday, May 21, 2011. (Daniel Petty, The Denver Post) #

 Reactions

24

San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell reacts after getting the final out in the Padres' 8-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the ninth of a baseball game Sunday, July 31, 2011 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) #

 Reactions

25

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana reacts after being taken out by manager Mike Scioscia during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011. Santana (8-8) held the Mariners to seven hits and won his duel with Mariners' Felix Hernandez (10-10), whose 12 strikeouts were one shy of his career high as the Angels won the game 2-1. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo) #

 Reactions

26

Boston University head coach Patrick Chambers reacts to play against the Kansas in the first half of a Southwest Regional NCAA tournament second round college basketball game, Friday, March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

 Reactions

27

Kentucky's Stacey Poole Jr. (2) reacts to a three point basket during the second half of an an East regional semifinal game against Ohio State in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 25, 2011, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) #

 Reactions

28

Colorado Rapids forward Quincy Amarikwa (12) reacts to a call for Toronto FC during a 0-0 tie match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City on Sunday, May 22, 2011. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post #

 Reactions

29

D.A. Points reacts to a short second shot to the 8th green during the opening round at the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club on Thursday, August 4, 2011, in Akron, Ohio. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal/MCT) #

 Reactions

30

Relief pitcher Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers celebrate after they beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in 10 innings at Kauffman Stadium on August 5, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

31

Serena Williams, of the United States, reacts after defeating Marion Bartoli, of France, 7-5, 6-1 in the final of the Bank of the West Classic tennis tournament, Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin) #

 Reactions

32

New York Yankees' Russell Martin, left, looks up as Boston Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury, right, reacts to his pop out with bases loaded to end the sixth inning of a baseball game in Boston, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) #

 Reactions

33

North Korea's Mun Hyok reacts during a U-20 World Cup group F soccer match against Argentina in Medellin, Colombia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Luis Benavides) #

 Reactions

34

Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova reacts during her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to Romania's Simona Halep in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young) #

 Reactions

35

Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis celebrates after dismissing Australian Shaun Marsh during the second Twenty20 match between Sri Lanka and Australia at The Pallekele Interntional Cricket Stadium in Pallekelle on August 8, 2011. Sri Lanka defeated Australia by eight runs in the second and final Twenty20 match at the Pallekele International Stadium on Monday to clinch the series 2-0. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

36

Stuttgart's headcoach Bruno Labbadia (C) celebrates as Stuttgart's Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki (not seen) scores during the German first division Bundesliga football match VfB Stuttgart vs Schalke 04 in the southern German city of Stuttgart on August 6, 2011. Stuttgart won 3-0. THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

37

Julia Georges of Germany celebrates her win against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia during the Rogers Cup tennis tournament on Monday, August 8, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Tyler Anderson/National Post/Postmedia News/MCT) #

 Reactions

38

Sking Superpipe Men's Finals. Aspen/Snowmass Thursday, January 27, 2011 Kevin Rolland reacts after he captures gold in the skiing superpipe. Photo by AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post #

 Reactions

39

Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox and Josh Reddick #16 celebrate the win over the New York Yankees on August 6, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.The Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees 10-4. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) #

 Reactions

40

Netherlands Robin Haase celebrates after winning his final match against Spain's Albert Montanes at the ATP-tournament in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. Haase won the match with 6-4, 4-6 and 6-1. (AP Photo/ Kerstin Joensson) #

 Reactions

41

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval celebrates after hitting a home run off Philadelphia Phillies' Cole Hamels during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, in San Francisco. Sandoval had the sole Giant run of the game in a 2-1 defeat. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) #

 Reactions

42

Spain's Alvaro Vazquez (R) celebrates his goal during the FIFA U-20 World Cup football tournament match against Australia held at Palo Grande stadium in Manizales, Colombia on August 6, 2011. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images #

 Reactions

43

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner (11) breaks his bat in frustration after striking out to end a baseball game with two men on base against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium in New York, Friday, July 29, 2011. Baltimore won 4-2. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill) #

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The gates were up, training facilities were open and NFL players went back to work.

Now, they need to get ready for the season in a hurry.

After a lockout that lasted 4½ months ended Monday July 25, 2011 with an agreement between the NFL and its players, teams’ facilities were buzzing with activity. Players all around the league were allowed back in to meet with coaches, work out, take physicals and receive playbooks.

Teams were also allowed to sign their drafted players and undrafted free agents, and negotiate with free agents in what will likely be a flurry of activity unlike what the league has ever seen.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen​ issued a statement Monday afternoon thanking fans for their patience throughout the duration of the lockout. “Although the offseason was unsettling for everyone, this agreement will ensure the continued growth and prosperity of this league well into the future,” said Bowlen, co-chair of the league’s Management Council Executive Committee. “I am thrilled that it is finally time to turn our attention back to the game that all of us love.”

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

1

Cincinnati Bengals safety Rico Murray puts on his helmet at the start of their second practice at NFL football training camp, Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Georgetown, Ky. (AP Photo/Al Behrman) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

2

Employees and volunteers for the Miami Dolphins, including one dressed as former coach Don Shula, stand on a downtown Miami street corner Monday, July 25, 2011. NFL players voted to OK a final deal Monday, days after the owners approved a tentative agreement, and the sides finally managed to put an end to the 4Ë -month lockout, the longest work stoppage in league history. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

3

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws during NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Philadelphia Eagles running back Noel Devine puts his hands up to catch the ball during NFL football training camp at Lehigh University, Friday, July 29, 2011, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

5

Detroit Lions punter Nick Harris kicks during practice at NFL football training camp in Allen Park, Mich., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

6

Gwynne Chapin, foreground right, hands an ice cream cone to Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Bryan Hall (68) from her truck as his teammates wait in line for their orders following NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

7

Houston Texans' Mario Williams cools off during the first day of NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looks to a throw during NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Tennessee Titans wide receiver O. J. Murdock reaches for a pass around a goal post pad during a drill at NFL football training camp on Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton's gloves cover his eyes while catching a pass during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

11

An unidentified Miami Dolphins fan waits for the start of NFL football training camp in Miami, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

12

Green Bay Packers' Chastin West (11) and Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson catch balls during NFL football training camp Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

13

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) throws during training camp at the Denver Broncos football training facility in Englewood, Colo., on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Buffalo Bills fan Joe Hart dressed as "Superfan" walks to an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

15

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jorrick Calvin holds on to four balls that he caught as he watches for the next one to during a catching drill at the NFL football team's training camp at Lehigh University on Thursday, July 28, 2011, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez wipes his brow while signing autographs after an NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

17

Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald hangs on to the football during drills during afternoon practice at Cardinals NFL football training camp Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Flagstaff, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

18

Denver Broncos Knowshon Moreno (27) gets in extra work catching passes from the jugs machine after the morning session at camp August 1, 2011 at Dove Valley. John Leyba, The Denver Post #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

19

Tennessee Titans guard Ryan Durand knocks down a blocking dummy during NFL football training camp on Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Watching at right is wide receiver Nate Washington (85). (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

20

Unrestricted free agent Nick Barnett wears his Superbowl ring while talking with Buffalo Bills coaches during an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

21

Mary Steinkraus, from Germantown, Wis., watches the Cleveland Browns practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Berea, Ohio, Sunday, July 31, 2011. Steinkraus is the aunt of Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

22

Oakland Raiders defensive tackle John Henderson, left, has his helmet adjusted during NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Saturday, July 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn, left, and tackle Derek Hardman, right, work out for the first day in pads during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

24

Kansas City Chiefs fan Natalie Canon, 9, poses for a photograph by a Chiefs mannequin during the team's NFL football training camp in St Joseph, Mo., Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

25

Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton is all smiles as he stretches with the team during practice. The first day of Bronco's Training camp took place today July 28, 2011 at the team's headquarters at Dove Valley. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

26

Detroit Lions receiver Rashied Davis (82) watches as teammate Stefan Logan, left, walks on his hands during a break in practice at NFL football training camp in Allen Park, Mich., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

27

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Keenan Clayton, left, gets a head butt and an ear full from defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, right, during the morning session of NFL football training camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. on Monday, August 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

28

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (27) catches a pass during training camp at the Denver Broncos football training facility in Englewood, Colo., on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

29

Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow is mobbed by media after practice. The first day of Bronco's Training camp took place today July 28, 2011 at the team's headquarters at Dove Valley. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

30

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt works out during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

31

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signs autographs after practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

32

St. Louis Rams full back Brit Miller participates in a drill during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, at the team's training facility in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

33

Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley removes his cleats after the NFL football team's training camp practice on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

34

Houston Texans wide receiver Jeff Maehl, left, is tripped up by cornerback Antwaun Molden (28) after catching a pass during the first day of their NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

35

Tennessee Titans quarterback Paul Ratliff plays with his son Johnny, 21 months, and Elle, 2, back right, after NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

36

Houston Texans players run to a practice field during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

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