NFL players are no longer supposed to get suspended for marijuana use thanks to the league’s new collective bargaining agreement with its Players Association, but La’el Collins apparently went the extra mile to earn his five-game suspension thanks to a bribery attempt.
The Dallas Cowboys lineman was suspended five games earlier in the month, and we now know it was for a long series of errors that included skipping tests and committing light financial crimes in an attempt to bypass a drug test that reportedly wouldn’t get him suspended otherwise.
As ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday, Collins “multiple missed tests” and then tried “to bribe the test collector” on his way to earning a longer-than-normal suspension after all that mess. In fact, as Schefter noted, Collins actually got a five-game suspension that was then negotiated down before an arbitrator rejected that plan based on evidence of the bribery.
The NFL initially was preparing to suspend Collins five games for his actions, but the NFL Players Association — aware of the intended five-game suspension — helped negotiate a reduction to what would have been a two-game ban.
Collins, however, appealed the suspension, and the appeal was heard by an arbitrator appointed jointly by the league and the NFLPA. The arbitrator not only rejected Collins’ appeal but also ruled that, based on the evidence, the suspension should be increased back to the original five games.
As the ESPN report notes, the suspension was initially revealed on September 10, and he’s already served a game of that five-game suspension. But news of the bribe is certainly new, as is the number of tests he skipped: seven.
He believed he had legitimate reasons for missing seven drug tests, one of which was scheduled for the day that Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul died in November. Collins missed another drug test the day of his uncle’s funeral.
Collins is not the first NFL player to attempt to circumvent the league’s drug-test policy. In 2013, the NFL suspended Denver Broncos star Von Miller six games after he was caught attempting to corrupt the drug-test program with the help of a urine collector.
Before the suspension, Collins had missed just one game for the Cowboys since he joined the team in 2015. If the suspension holds, he’s scheduled to return to the roster on October 18.