Suspended Dallas offensive lineman La'el Collins sued the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday, seeking an injunction to stop the remaining two games of a five-game ban over substance-abuse violations.
Lawyers for Collins filed the lawsuit in Collin County, the location of the team's headquarters north of Dallas. The suit claims the NFL suspended the seventh-year player for missed tests when the labor agreement reached in 2020 no longer allowed for suspensions over missed tests or positive marijuana tests.
According to the lawsuit, the NFL wrongfully determined that Collins had failed to cooperate with the league, a distinction that allows for suspensions. The league said the lawsuit was "meritless." It wasn't immediately clear if the case had been assigned to a judge.
"This suit is meritless as already determined by two jointly appointed NFL-NFLPA impartial arbitrators who have reviewed this," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "We will seek to have this case dismissed as soon as possible."
Collins' suspension was announced the day after Dallas' 31-29 loss to defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in the opener. The remaining two games of the suspension are Sunday at home against the New York Giants and Oct. 17 at New England.
The lawsuit says the NFL misled an arbitrator by saying Collins had previously been suspended four games when he hadn't. The NFL eventually decided to fine rather than suspend Collins over missed tests in early 2020.
In November 2020, the league was prepared to suspend Collins fives games over missed drug tests. The union negotiated a reduction to two games, but an appeal led to an arbitrator reinstating the five-game ban.
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Collins' representatives said the league announced the suspension with another appeal pending. The lawsuit claimed the announcement violated the confidentiality clause in the agreement between the league and the union over 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. "The harm to him could not be clearer."
Collins signed with the Cowboys as undrafted free agent in 2015. The former LSU player was expected to be a high draft pick, but his name surfaced in the investigation of a woman's death just before the draft.
The 28-year-old Collins is on his third contract, the most recent a $50 million, five-year extension signed in 2019.