Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins filed a lawsuit against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday in an effort to get his five-game suspension ended early, according to The Associated Press.
Collins was suspended last month for five games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Collins, who had reportedly used marijuana, tried to bribe the NFL drug test collector who came to take his sample. Collins also allegedly missed seven different drug tests.
Collins argued in his lawsuit that the NFL wrongfully determined that he failed to cooperate and that the league suspended him despite the labor agreement the NFLPA reached with the NFL that stopped requiring suspensions for players who test positive for marijuana.
He also argued in the lawsuit that the NFL “misled an arbitrator” and said that Collins had been suspended for four games in the past, though he hadn’t. Instead, that violation was reportedly brought down to only a fine. The NFL was prepared to suspend him last November for five games, but the NFLPA negotiated that down to two, per the report. An appeal then reinstated the five-game ban.
Collins is also arguing that the NFL’s announcement of his suspension violated the confidentiality clause in the agreement between the NFL and the players association about substance-abuse policies.
"To Mr. Collins, this case presents the difference between a career in the NFL and a potential career-ruining suspension," the lawsuit said, via The Associated Press. "The harm to him could not be clearer."
Collins was suspended after Dallas’ season-opener. He is eligible to return for the Cowboys’ game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 31.
The 28-year-old is in his sixth season in the league. He is in the middle of a five-year, $50 million deal with the team.
The NFL called the lawsuit “meritless” on Wednesday.
"This suit is meritless as already determined by two jointly appointed NFL-NFLPA impartial arbitrators who have reviewed this," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, via the Associated Press. "We will seek to have this case dismissed as soon as possible."