When the NFL announced a five-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys defensive end La’el Collins, it raised suspicion around the league. For one, the NFL and NFLPA agreements don’t offer a five-game suspension for Collins’ alleged violation -not showing up for seven drug tests. The players’ agreement only lists fines, not suspensions, making it seem like there was more to the story.
As reported by Adam Schefter, there was more to the story than what Collins and his agent Peter Schaffer indicated in press releases following the suspension on September 10. Schaffer even released a statement claiming that he was “extremely disappointed” in the way the NFL handled the situation, going so far as to say that his client’s rights were “trampled.”
The initial story was that Collins had failed to appear for several drug tests. Collins stated at the time that at least some of the tests had been missed due to Covid restrictions and to attend the funeral of his uncle and another missed test the day that strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul died after suffering a medical emergency at the team facilities last November.
What Collins and Schaffer didn’t say is that the five-game suspension arose not from the missed tests but because of credible reports that Collins attempted to bribe the NFL test collectors to avoid required drug testing. Under the current players’ agreement, Collins would not face suspensions for a failed marijuana test, which he is suspected of not being able to pass.
Instead of a fine, the league issued the suspension, arguing that Colins’ behavior falls under “failing to cooperate with investigators,” a violation that carries the stiffer sentence. Collins and his agent had argued that the suspension should have been overturned.
Instead, the NFL offered to reduce the suspension to two games if Collins would drop his appeal of the process. This would have made Collins eligible to return to the team this week ahead of the match-up against the Carolina Panthers. Collins refused to drop his appeal, and after hearing the claims from both the NFL and Collins legal team, the five-game ban was reinstated.
It remains unclear why Collins would refuse to accept the two-game suspension when it must have been clear to both he and his legal team that some type of punishment was inevitable. Collins has appeared in only one game since 2019, the opening season loss to Tampa Bay this season. Collins sat out the 2020 season due to a hip injury.
In his absence, this season, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been forced to move various players around on the defensive line to compensate for early-season injuries and Collins’ suspension. First-round draft pick Micah Parsons has taken the majority of snaps in Collins’ place, proving his skills as an elite pass-rusher and key defensive acquisition in the offseason.
Collins intended to continue to appeal the decision, but early reports indicate that he will fail after the ruling by the arbitrator, who was chosen by both the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Collins will not be available again until Halloween night when the Cowboys face the Minnesota Vikings on the road.