The NFL charged Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins with attempting to bribe a drug enforcement officer before the player was suspended five games for a violation of substance abuse policy, according to published court documents. .
The accusation arose in a federal court case after Collins sued the league, its board of directors and Commissioner Roger Goodell as he sought a court order to stop the suspension with two games remaining.
The NFL said the person collecting the samples for the tests wrote in his notes that in November 2020, Collins asked to meet with him “man-to-man” and said he felt “he was being tested too much because (they) they saw each other every day. ” day.”
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The collector said Collins asked if there was anything “we could do” and offered $ 5,000, and then $ 10,000, according to the NFL filing in response to Collins’ request for a court order.
Players agent Peter Schaffer, one of Collins’s representatives, flatly denied the bribery allegations against Collins, who was recovering from hip surgery at the time and did not play in 2020.
“Supposedly you bribed a debt collector without giving him money to turn a blind eye on a test that came back negative?” Schaffer said. “No witnesses, nothing. He came in wearing a T-shirt and shorts with crutches. How can you bribe someone? “
A federal judge heard arguments about the court order Friday in Sherman, Texas, about 65 miles (105 km) north of Dallas. There was no immediate failure.
The Cowboys (3-1) play the New York Giants (1-3) at home on Monday (AEDT). Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday there was no plan for Collins, the starting right tackle, to play the Giants if the suspension is lifted.
Collins’ suspension was announced the day after Dallas’s 31-29 loss to defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in Game 1, their first game since 2019.
During an appeal of the suspension, Schaffer called star quarterback Dak Prescott to testify in an attempt to rebut the bribery charge. Prescott testified about the joking nature of some of the conversations with the evidence collector, and said he did not see Collins carrying $ 10,000 on the day in question.
The league said in its filing that Collins had a “long record of discipline for repeated violations” of the substance abuse policy. Collins missed seven drug tests in a five-week period around the time of the alleged bribery in November 2020, the NFL said. .
Schaffer disagreed with what he called personal attacks on Collins during the hearing.
“That’s why it was so important for La’el to fight this so people can see that he’s not a bad person and that he doesn’t have this great track record of missing tests and being a bad person,” Schaffer said. “In the same way that they attacked him personally. This is one of your players. Find a way to do it without personal attacks. I was embarrassed to be a part of the NFL today because of the way the NFL attorneys personally attacked La’el. “
The league intended to suspend Collins for the first four games of 2020, but the board of directors and the players union agreed to a fine. The NFL said Collins continued to miss tests, leading to a five-game suspension that the union negotiated up to two.
An appeal of the two-game ban resulted in an umpire reinstating the five-game suspension after the league alleged the attempted bribery of Collins.
Representatives for Collins say the NFL falsely claimed the seventh-year player had previously been suspended four games when he hadn’t. They also said he was suspended for missed evidence when the new employment agreement in 2020 no longer allowed suspensions for lost evidence or positive tests for marijuana.
Representatives for the lineman said Collins had legitimate reasons for missing tryouts, including the death of an uncle in Arizona and the death of Cowboys strength coach Markus Paul, who collapsed in the weight room two days before the game. Thanksgiving last year.
Collins signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2015. The former LSU player was expected to be a top draft pick, but his name came up in the investigation into the death of a woman just before the draft. Collins was acquitted in that case.
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