Cowboys’ Collins fights suspension in court, Prescott testifies regarding bribe

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Cowboys right tackle La’el Collins had a hearing in federal court Friday afternoon as he continues to fight a five-game suspension by the league. Collins is seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow him to return to the field before the completion of the suspension that was handed down September 10 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The defense launched by the NFL contained some unsavory details about an alleged bribe offered by Collins to the tester responsible for collecting urine samples as per league policy. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott served as a witness at the arbitration hearing after being asked to testify, and answered questions about the supposed bribe; he also provided some colorful testimony about his own interactions with the collector.

The league came at Collins with an all-out blitz in the opening line of its opposition brief, shared online by Daniel Wallach, legal analyst for The Athletic.

According to the league, Collins was “advanced to Stage Two” of the substance abuse policy in December 2019. During that offseason, he allegedly gave the league’s collection vendor insufficient and, in some cases, false information about his whereabouts for testing purposes.

The much-discussed bribe is said to have taken place in November 2020 when he arrived at the testing facility on the day before the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game versus Washington.

According to the collector, Collins asked to speak with him “man to man” to say he felt like he was being tested too much. Collins then, as per the statement, “asked the collector if there was something that ‘we could do,’ and offered him $5,000, and later $10,000.”

Prescott testified, too, since he is also familiar with the collector, who is identified as “Roy” in court documents. The quarterback presented Roy and Collins (and Prescott himself) as being quite congenial in their dealings with one another.

“I’ve always messed with Roy,” Prescott is recorded as saying, “and Roy kind of laughed and took it how it was, and joked. And as I would say, Roy, I mean, wants to be everybody’s friend in a sense.”

Prescott would go on to give a colorful example of how the players interacted with Roy. As for the bribe, Prescott testified that he had never seen anything of that sort.

Question: “Did you ever hear, on the 25th, Mr. Collins ever talk to you about he was going to bribe Roy to not take a test?”

Prescott: “No, I never heard from La’el or anybody ever think about something like that.”

Question: “Did you ever see or hear that La’el did that on November 25, 2020?”

Prescott: “No.”

Question: “Did anybody even mention it to you, like, wow, I just did this, and he said no or did you see La’el with $10,000 cash in his gym shorts?”

Prescott: “No. Of course not. Of course not.”

Question: “Have you ever seen La’el with $10,000 cash in the locker room when he goes to see the tester?”

Prescott: “I have not.”

The NFL Management Council argued that the attempted bribe and Collins’ previous failures to appear for testing warranted a suspension for “failure to cooperate.”

The attorney for Collins is attempting to make the case that “irreparable harm will result if Collins can’t play this weekend because it could result in @dallascowboys losing,” tweeted legal analyst and League of Justice founder Amy Dash.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Friday that “there is not a plan in place” for Collins to play versus the New York Giants. With game rosters already submitted to the league, the tackle’s attorneys eventually admitted to the judge that Collins would likely not play on Sunday even if the ruling were to be favorable toward him.

The arbitrator in the case, as per Wallach, “found that Collins ‘did fail to appear on seven occasions,’ and Dr. Brown in the exercise of his final and binding discretion found those failures without appropriate excuse to be violations of the Policy.”

Judge Amos Mazzant’s ruling could come as early as Friday evening.

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