La’el Collins gets a potentially favorable judge in his case against NFL

History could be repeating itself for a suspended Cowboys player. This time around, history may hold.

Via Daniel Wallach, the lawsuit filed in Texans state court by La’el Collins against the NFL was removed to federal court by the league. At the federal level, the case has been assigned to Judge Amos Mazzant III.

Judge Mazzant initially overturned Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension in 2017, citing multiple flaws in the NFL’s in-house arbitration process. The NFL ultimately prevailed on appeal because Elliott filed his lawsuit before the NFL had issued a final ruling.

Elliott’s case instead landed in a New York federal court, after the NFL sought a judicial declaration that the suspension was valid.

This time around, Collins sued after the suspension became final. Likewise, the NFL did not file a pre-emptive suit in New York federal court.

It’s a surprising misstep by the usually buttoned-up NFL legal apparatus. They easily could have won the race to the courthouse, especially since Collins waited multiple weeks to sue. If the league had sued in New York, precedent created in cases arising from the Ezekiel Elliott suspension and the Tom Brady suspension could have helped the NFL prevail.

The biggest head-scratcher in the Collins case comes from the NFL’s representation to the arbitrator that Collins previously was suspended four games. He was not; however, the arbitrator cited that inaccurate fact in finding that a five-game suspension was a reasonable and proper next step.