Union to argue in district court on Friday on behalf of Vick
ATLANTA -- Representatives from the NFL Players Association will argue Friday in a federal district court that an arbitrator erred last month in ruling that the Atlanta Falcons can attempt to recover nearly $20 million in past bonuses paid to banished quarterback Michael Vick as part of the landmark 10-year, $130 million contract extension he signed in 2004.
The appeal of last month's ruling will be heard in Minneapolis by Judge David Doty, who has jurisdiction over matters relating to the NFL collective bargaining agreement.
On Oct. 10, special master Stephen B. Burbank, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania school of law, ruled in favor of the Falcons, who filed a non-injury grievance against Vick after he pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges. Suspended indefinitely by the NFL, the seven-year veteran quarterback faces sentencing on Dec. 10, but has already entered a federal facility in Virginia.
"The NFLPA believes that Burbank's ruling was erroneous" in permitting the Falcons to pursue $19.97 million in bonus money, the union said in a statement, and it filed for an expedited appeal in front of Doty.
At issue is $16.22 million in roster bonuses the Falcons paid Vick as part of $37 million in total bonuses that were a part of the extension he signed on Christmas Eve 2004.
In his nine-page ruling, Burbank said that the Falcons could recover $13.5 million of the $22.5 million that Vick received in a roster bonus paid out in 2005-2006. He also ruled that Atlanta could recover $2.72 million of the $7 million roster bonus that the Falcons paid Vick this spring.
But the NFLPA, likely citing a prior case involving former first-round draft choice Ashley Lelie, will contend on Friday that, because the bonuses paid Vick were not signing bonuses, he cannot be compelled to return even a portion of them. The Lelie case was brought by the Denver Broncos, who originally drafted him. Lelie now plays for San Francisco.
Recovering the bonus payments from Vick is critical to the Falcons, since the money would be credited to the team's future salary caps, as early as 2008. Team officials have reiterated that they plan to use that money to pursue veteran free agents or extend the existing contracts of players already on the Atlanta roster.
ESPN.com reported last month, though, that to receive credit for the Vick bonus money, the Falcons must literally recover it from him. In essence, Vick would have to fund the rebate by writing the Falcons a check.
Even though Vick's representatives have insisted he has substantial financial wherewithal, much of it liquid, three different banks have filed lawsuits against him and various partners in recent months, claiming he defaulted on loans.
Vick earlier this week agreed to deposit $928,073 into an escrow account controlled by his attorney, Billy Martin, to cover the care of the 54 pit bulls that were seized from the property he formerly owned in Virginia.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Disappointing Texans fire coach Kubiak
- Fox to coach from sideline against Titans
- Packers rule Rodgers out against Falcons
- Romo: December or not, we need to win
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
VICK SENTENCED TO 23 MONTHS
Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and three years' probation for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy. The suspended Falcons quarterback is looking at a scheduled release of July 2009. Story
Update• GM: Falcons will attempt to trade Vick
• Lawyer: Vick might move to halfway house
• Former Vick estate fails to sell again
• Vick house fails to sell at auction
• Vick files for bankruptcy protection
• Prosecutor: Vick's Virginia trial can wait
• Vick ordered to repay Canadian bank $2.4 million
• Judge denies NFL motion to reverse Vick ruling
• Report: Vick not playing organized football in jail
• Report: Vick passes time with prison-yard football
• Vick's state dogfighting trial to begin June 27
• Munson: Vick yet to enter drug treatment
The sentence• Vick sent to Kansas to serve rest of sentence
• Vick asked judge for leniency before sentencing
• Vick sentenced to 23 months | Document (pdf)
• Poll: What do you think? | What they're saying
• Clayton: Sentence puts career in jeopardy
• Munson: Tough sentence by displeased judge
• Teammates show support at Falcons game
• Can Vick return to playing in NFL?
• Pasquarelli: No longer top of mind in Atlanta
• Last Vick co-defendant sentenced
• Podcasts : Cossack | Schlereth | Munson/Naqi | Pasquarelli
• Chat wrap: David Cornwell
Post Plea• NFL wants court to reverse Vick bonus ruling
• Victory for Vick: QB can keep $20 million bonus
• Fifth defendant in Vick case receives probation
• Vick's house for sale for $1.1M
• Some Falcons to visit Vick in prison
• PETA unveils new e-card
• Former Virginia estate fails to sell at auction
• Out of Falcons' sight, almost out of mind
• Judge's casework offers look at possible sentence
• Remaining dogs placed with rescue groups
• Source: Feds may push judge to up sentence
• NFLPA argues Vick should not lose roster bonus
• Vick co-defendants get 18, 21 months in prison
• Vick agrees to put up almost $1M for dogs' care
• Vick given April trial date on state charges
• Vick surrenders to begin serving sentence early
• Home at center of Vick dogfighting scandal sold
• Vick fires one of his lawyers in dogfighting case
• Man who sold Vick pit bull pleads guilty
• Man connected to Vick dogfight ring pleads guilty
• Third bank sues Vick, claims he defaulted on loan
• Arbiter: Falcons have right to reclaim bonuses
• PETA: Vick had class on animal cruelty
• Evaluations show 48 of Vick's dogs placeable
• Vick tests positive for marijuana
• Vick supporters turn out for town meeting
• Vick's apology notes fetch $10.2K at auction
Vick's Plea/NFL Suspension• Vick pleads guilty to federal dogfighting charge
• The plea (PDF) | Statement of facts (PDF)
• Vick's statement: Watch it | Read it
• Roger Cossack explains plea deal
• Poll: Vick should be banned
• Va. Tech, Beamer continue to support Vick
• Vick supporters drown out protesters
• NFL suspends Vick indefinitely | Goodell (PDF)
• Chris Mortensen on Vick's suspension
• Vick files plea agreement admitting to dogfighting
Indictment• Marbury's about-face: Vick 'is 100 percent wrong'
• National NAACP: Vick 'not a victim' | Audio
• Atlanta NAACP: Vick should be allowed to return
• Falcons come to terms with 'ex-teammate'
• Vick timeline | What they're saying
• Helyar: Even Atlanta turns against Vick
• Goodell: Vick not overshadowing season
• Vick co-defendant pleads guilty to charges
• Tony Taylor: Summary of Facts | Plea agreement
• Hometown residents stand by Vick
• Falcons had planned to suspend Vick
• Commish tells Vick to avoid camp
• Vick indicted | The indictment (pdf) | Civil arrest warrant (pdf)
Town Hall meeting• Town Hall chat wrap: Chadiha
Previous columns/analysis• Munson: Q&A on Vick reporting to prison early
• Munson: Looking at Judge Hudson
• Vick's high school learning lessons
• Bryant: Confounded by race issue
• Munson: Q&A about local indictment
• Munson: Next focus for Vick is length of sentence
• Schlabach: Vick an afterthought on VT campus
• Chadiha: Vick not running from truth
• Hill: Coverage means bigger issues ignored
• Wojciechowski: Pay attention to the fallen star
• Bryant: Vick's plea deal comes with baggage
• Bryant: In failing Vick, NFLPA fails itself
• Munson: Vick plea means surrender
• Forde: Vick's epic fall
• Pasquarelli: Major blow for Falcons
• Chadiha: Lots of lessons to be learned
• Wojciechowski: Punishment with teeth
• Easterbrook: Little sympathy?
• Clayton: Vick's NFL future might be bleak
• E-Ticket: A history of mistrust
• Chadiha: Vick's bad choices