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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — While the NFL waits to hear whether its request for a stay of the injunction ending the lockout pending an appeal of Judge Susan Richard Nelson's ruling for the players association, everything was not business as usual at the Bears' team facility Tuesday.
The annual Brian Piccolo Awards ceremony — scheduled well before Monday's court decision — was held Tuesday morning. The two award winners, DT Anthony Adams and OT J'Marcus Webb, were back at Halas Hall and had planned to be there regardless of the court situation. They gave acceptance speeches and were joined by team president Ted Phillips, GM Jerry Angelo, head coach Lovie Smith, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Three of the award winners' teammates, PK Robbie Gould, DE Israel Idonije and DT Matt Toeaina, were allowed to enter the facility earlier in the day, but were told they could not work out and did not attend the Piccolo ceremony.
"It was brief, it was cordial," Phillips said of his meeting with the players on Tuesday morning. "I told them pretty much what I'm telling you. As soon as we get some clarification from the courts we'll, hopefully soon at some point, be ready to move forward. In the meantime, you're welcome to the building, but we're not open for business yet."
Bears players vote to decide a rookie and veteran winner of the Piccolo Award. It goes to players who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.
Adams showed why he fit the bill, joking with reporters when he was told it was good to see him back at Halas Hall after being barred from entering for the previous 45 days.
"It's good to be seen," Adams said. "It's legal now, right? I can be here without looking over my shoulder?"
But would Adams have been one of the few players to show up if he didn't have an award to accept?
"I guess," he said. "I'm not doing anything else. I might as well come in just to say 'Hi.' I could see myself just strolling in today if I wasn't getting an award. Like I was just telling someone just now, you can't beat just coming in the locker room, being with your teammates, talking about basketball or the season or whatever else comes up. You can't beat it. You can't find it anywhere. You can't replicate it. Just to come in the locker room and talk with your teammates and be around your teammates is big. It means a lot to a lot of people, and especially me."
Smith said the day had a different feel than past Piccolo Awards ceremonies.
"Normally at this (ceremony) I talk for a little while and we're going out to the practice field," Smith said. "You can see, we don't even have our turf down (on the practice field) right now, but I'm patient. In time, they'll tell us that we can start up and we'll be ready when that day comes."
The Bears are a step closer to reaching that conclusion, but it was clear Tuesday that no one is quite sure when or how they'll arrive at it.