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NFL, La’el Collins trade statements over his lawsuit

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 30: La’el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 30, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

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Cowboys tackle La’el Collins has filed a lawsuit against the NFL attacking the remainder of his five-game suspension, based on arguments that the substance-abuse policy doesn’t permit suspensions for missed tests and that the NFL misrepresented to an arbitrator that Collins previously had been suspended four games.

Both sides have issued statements regarding the situation.

Said the NFL, “The suit is meritless as already determined by two jointly-appointed NFL-NFLPA impartial arbitrators who have reviewed this. We will seek to have this case dismissed as soon as possible.”

Collins’s lawyers understandably struck a far different tone.

“La’el has filed this proper action to defend his name and reputation,” said Peter Schaffer, and NFLPA-certified agent and lawyer who has represented Collins in this matter. “We hold the NFL in the highest regard and believe that they should be held to a high level of ethics prior to imposing the ultimate discipline, i.e. a suspension. The NFL’s statement is a perfect example of their bullying tactics The NFL wants to defend against an action where they made material misrepresentations to have La’el suspended by making material misrepresentations in the press response.The response is replete with misrepresentations. For example there was one arbitrator not two. We look forward to getting La’el back on the field as fast as possible.”

Collins has sought a temporary restraining order, aimed at ending his suspension immediately.

As to the argument that the league misrepresented that Collins previously had been suspended four games, a league source with access to the relevant records tells PFT that Collins never had been suspended under the substance-abuse policy, before the current suspension. The hearing in his arbitration undoubtedly was transcribed, and the ruling allegedly cites the fact that Collins previously was suspended four games. It’s bizarre, to say the least, that the league claimed that Collins previously had been suspended, and that the arbitrator bought it.

That seems to be the kind of obvious flaw that should have resulted in greater scrutiny of the league’s position, along with an effort to hold the league accountable for making such a clear misrepresentation to the arbitrator. Not surprisingly, the league’s statement fails to address this specific angle.