La’el Collins’s five-game suspension stemmed from an attempt to bribe an NFL drug test collector, according to an ESPN Sunday report.
Under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, players cannot be suspended for positive marijuana tests; The problem for the Cowboys’ right tackle, however, is not that he tested positive, but that he missed several tests and then tried to bribe the person sent to collect a drug sample.
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According to ESPN, the NFL was prepared to suspend Collins for five games, although the NFL Players Association was able to reduce his suspension to two games. But Collins appealed the suspension directly and sent his case to a referee approved by both the league and the NFLPA. Not only did they reject Collins’s appeal, but they also restored Collins’ five-game full suspension as initially ordered by the NFL.
Collins is now appealing the referee’s ruling, although ESPN reports that the suspension likely will not be lowered.
To date, Collins has only played in the Cowboys’ season-opening loss to the Buccaneers. He missed Dallas’ Week 2 win against the Chargers and will miss the team’s “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Eagles. Assuming his suspension, which was imposed on September 10, is not reduced, he will be able to return on October 18, the day after the Cowboys play the Patriots.
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According to ESPN, Collins believes he had good reason to miss his drug tests. One reportedly occurred in November, the day Markus Paul, the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning coach, died; another occurred on the day of his uncle’s funeral.
This is not the first time Collins has missed significant time, although it is the first time it is the result of a suspension. He missed 13 games due to a toe injury in 2016 and missed the entirety of the 2020 season with hip surgery.