Robinson grievance seeks pay from Vikings
Green Bay Packers
The grievance, filed through the NFL Players Association, seeks payment of a substantial portion of the three-year, $12.7 million contract that the wide receiver and kickoff returner received when he re-signed with the Vikings in March as an unrestricted free agent after a 2005 season in which he resurrected his NFL career.
Robinson was paid $1.1 million by the Vikings, a $1 million signing bonus and an offseason workout bonus of $100,000, before his release. He would have made about $3.2 million in bonuses and salary had he played in Minnesota the entire season. He has since signed with the Green Bay Packers.
Because of Robinson's past problems with drug- and alcohol-related offenses, incidents that resulted in a league-mandated suspension, the Vikings structured the contract carefully to protect themselves against possible recidivism. On Aug. 15, while in training camp, Robinson was arrested after a high-speed automobile chase and subsequently charged with fleeing a police officer, driving while impaired, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.
The flight charge is a felony while the other charges are misdemeanors.
First-year Vikings coach Brad Childress excused Robinson from camp and then released him 11 days after the incident.
Earlier this week, Robinson, who was chosen for the Pro Bowl as a kickoff return man last season, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for violating conditions of his probation from a May 2005 drunken driving incident in Kirkland, Wash. Robinson has until March 1 to begin serving the 90-day sentence. Unless he is suspended by the league, Robinson probably will be able to play through the season without missing any games.
The grievance contends that the Vikings' release of Robinson was a punitive move, precipitated by the Aug. 15 incident, and that the action violates terms of the collective bargaining agreement. According to the CBA, players cannot be released as punishment for off-field actions. Players can be released only for so-called "skill" reasons, meaning diminished production or ability.
In terminating Robinson in late August, the Vikings cited two reasons for his release: unsatisfactory performance compared to other players at the same position and personal conduct that adversely affected the team.
The Vikings have declined comment on the grievance. Green Bay officials, since the action does not include the Packers, have referred questions to the league or to Robinson's representatives. If the two sides cannot resolve the issue, it likely will go to arbitration, although a hearing probably would not be convened until after the season.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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