ATLANTA (AP) _ An arbitrator ruled Tuesday that the Atlanta
Falcons are entitled to recover nearly 20 million in bonus money
paid to quarterback Michael Vick.
The players' union vowed to appeal.
Any money the Falcons recover from Vick would be credited to its
future salary cap. That would be a huge step in recovering from the
loss of the team's franchise player.
Stephen B. Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania law professor
and special master who led last week's arbitration hearing, sided
with the team after hearing from Falcons president and general
manager Rich McKay and attorneys from the NFL Players Association,
which represented Vick.
The Falcons argued that Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal
charges for his role in a long-running dogfighting operation, knew
he was in violation of the contract when he signed a $130 million
deal in December 2004.
The team said he used proceeds from the contract to fund his
illicit activities and sought the repayment of 19 million and
970,000 dollars in bonuses he was paid out of a total of 22.5
million in 2005 and 2006.
Vick was suspended indefinitely without pay by the NFL after
entering into his plea agreement. He also lost millions in
lucrative endorsement deals.
The case now goes to U.S. District Court Judge David Doty in
Minneapolis. Doty still has jurisdiction over the antitrust suit
filed by players following the 1987 strike.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)