La’el Collins’ five-game suspension stemmed from an attempt to bribe an NFL drug test collector, according to a Sunday report from ESPN.
Per the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, players can’t be suspended for positive marijuana tests; the issue for the Cowboys right tackle, however, isn’t that he tested positive, but that he missed multiple tests, and then attempted to bribe the person sent to collect a drug sample.
According to ESPN, the NFL was prepared to suspend Collins five games, though the NFL Players Association was able to reduce his suspension to two contests. But Collins appealed the suspension outright, sending his case to an arbitrator approved by both the league and NFLPA. They not only rejected Collins’ appeal, but also restored Collins’ full five-game suspension as initially mandated by the NFL.
Collins is now appealing the arbitrator’s ruling, though ESPN reports that the suspension likely won’t be reduced.
To date, Collins has only played in the Cowboys’ season-opening loss against 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 levied on Sept. 10 — isn’t reduced, he’ll be able to return on Oct. 18, the day after the Cowboys play the Patriots.
Per 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 the day of his uncle’s funeral.
This isn’t the first time Collins has missed significant time, though it is the first time it has been a result of suspension. He missed 13 games due to a toe injury in 2016 and missed the entirety of the 2020 season with hip surgery.