This should have been a day of optimism in the NFL. Eleven teams practiced for the first time as training camp truly cranked up. Actual football, with pads and tackling, has started.
But the biggest headlines were stories that the league would rather forget about.
Ray Rice was was suspended by the NFL for two games in connection with his February arrest for an ugly domestic dispute. Suspended Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested for driving under the influence. And the day's capper came live on NFL Network when we learned Marshawn Lynchwill hold out of training camp, from his ex-teammate Michael Robinson.
Lynch's situation is not one-tenth as serious as Rice or Blackmon, but it is a story we'll wind up writing about plenty throughout camp. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that the Seahawks have no intention of upgrading Lynch's contract, so there isn't an easy solution in sight.
It was a fitting end to a depressing day of news. There will be plenty of summer afternoons to revel in the return of football and the winners and losers of "two-a-days." But Thursday was largely about the uglier side of the sport.
Here's what else we learned Thursday:
- Rice will miss two division games to start the season against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Bernard Pierce figures to carry the load while Rice is out, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Pierce winds up leading the team in rushing even when Rice returns to the field.
- Blackmon's story is sad, with substance abuse issues dating back to college. He could be the rare NFL player that winds up being suspended for more than one season. He's currently on an indefinite suspension from the league. Jaguars owner Shad Khan said that the organization will not release Blackmon.
- This shouldn't be a surprise, but the New York Giants put Rashad JenningsNo. 1 on their first unofficial depth chart. It's interesting that David Wilson, finally cleared after neck problems, was immediately No. 2 at the position. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah noted that rookie Andre Williams dropped a few passes at practice Thursday.
The new season has only brought out more eccentricities in Griffin. He has taken to doing push ups after bad passes. He's also wearing one black shoe and black sock with a matching white sock and white shoe.
"I call it the ying and the yang, white and black working together. We're all brothers. We're doing it together," Griffin said.
Bonus: And Finally ... Jim Harbaugh
"It's such a positive happening, that first day. Imagine you're kind of in the comfort of the offseason, like being in the comfort of the womb. You got plenty to eat in there, it's warm, very cozy.
"And then you're born, into somewhat of the unknown. A lot of people looking at you, lot of faces looking at you, lot of excitement. It's light, it's bright, it's noisy, it's the crazy world of football. Again, it's a real happening. Wish everyone could experience it."
The warm, cozy offseason is over. 2014 training camp came out kicking and screaming Thursday.