What you may have seen is multi-port "teaming" Nics (like 3COM or Intel) with a couple channels each going to two different switches (offers bandwidth aggregation and redundancy). Only one channel group is actually passing traffic, the other is in standby until the primary fails or otherwise goes offline.
Just to add to your point on "teaming", Compaq also has this feature and they refer to it as "ALB" (adaptive load balancing, I think). We use it extensively where GigE servers are redundantly connected to two 6513 server pool switches. We also have many using ALB where the primary is GigE and the fail-over is 100. That's quite sufficient in most cases and a heck of a lot cheaper than having idle GigE ports! You are able to force specify which NIC is primary, if that was your next question.
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