When Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle La'el Collins was suspended a few weeks ago, all we knew was that he'd violated the NFL's substance abuse policy and would sit out for five games.
Turns out there might be more to the story.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday night that Collins was suspended for, in part, trying to bribe the NFL drug test collector who came to take his sample. Collins also reportedly missed seven drug tests, which contributed to the NFL's decision to suspend him.
Schefter reported that Collins had been using marijuana. The collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA states that players can't be suspended for positive marijuana tests, so it's not entirely clear why Collins tried to bribe the test collector.
Collins' suspension went from 2 games to 5
According to Schefter, the NFL was originally going to suspend Collins five games. The NFLPA reportedly intervened and negotiated that suspension down to just two games. Collins didn't even have to use the appeals process to get that reduction.
But then Collins decided to appeal that two-game suspension, and that's where things went south. Schefter reported that after hearing his case and looking at the evidence, the jointly appointed arbitrator decided to do the exact opposite of what Collins wanted. He rejected Collins' appeal to reduce the two-game suspension, but then went even further, reinstating the five-game ban that the NFL originally wanted.
According to Schefter, Collins believes he has legitimate reasons for missing seven drug tests. Two of them were due to the deaths of people close to him. One drug test was scheduled for the day of his uncle's funeral, and the other was scheduled for the day Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul suddenly died.
Collins' lawyer is appealing the arbitrator's decision. Collins' agent Peter Schaffer released a statement on Sept. 10, the day the suspension was announced, ripping the NFL for "intentionally misleading the court at the hearing.” And with the NFL initially agreeing to reduce the suspension from five games to two before an appeal had even been heard, Collins' lawyer may have a better shot than the NFL thinks.
Collins has already served one of his five games, sitting out the Cowboys' Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. If his suspension isn't reduced or overturned, he'll be eligible to return on Oct. 18, one day after the Cowboys' Week 6 game against the New England Patriots.
Additionally, if his suspension isn't overturned, Schefter reported that Collins will lose $2 million, and the $6.48 million injury guarantee in his 2022 salary will be voided.