The Michael Vick-Atlanta Falcons saga is getting that much closer to the epilogue; according to Paul Newberry of the Associated Press, the team is entitled to recover nearly $20 million in bonus money that was paid to Vick, arbritrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the players union said that they plan to appeal the ruling.
Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and special master who led the proceedings last week, sided with the Falcons after hearing from team president/general manager Rick McKay and attorneys from the NFL Players Association, which represented Vick. The Falcons argued that Vick, who had plead guilty to federal charges for his role in a long-running dogfighting operation, knew that he was in violation of the contract he signed for $130 million back in December 2004.
The team also said that Vick used the proceeds from the contract to finance the illicit activities and sought to recoup $19,970,000 in bonuses that he was paid over three years. In a 9-page ruling, Burbank said the Falcons were entitled to $3.75 million of the $7.5 million bonus paid to Vick in 2004 (the year the deal was signed), $13.5 million of the $22.5 million in roster, reporting and playing bonuseshe was paid in 2005 and 2006 and $2.72 million of the $7 million roster, reporting and playing bonus he received this year.
Burbank further added that the ruling involving former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ashley Lelie did not apply in this case. Because the players union is appealing, the case will now go to U.S. District Court Judge David Doty in Minneapolis, MN, who still has jurisdiction over the antitrust suit filed by players following the 1987 strike. If this ruling is upheld, this willwithout a doubt put a big strain on Vick’s finances.
Two creditors – an Indiana Bank and a Canadian bank – are seeking a total of some $4.3 million. Then there’s the legal problems as well. On December 10, Vick will be sentenced in the federal dogfighting case and is expected to get at least one year in prison. In addition, he is also facing felony dogfighting charges in Virginia, which carry a penalty of up to 5 years on each charge.