NFL to ask federal court to reverse ruling on Vick's bonus money

Updated: February 15, 2008, 11:18 AM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL is asking federal court to vacate a judge's ruling allowing suspended quarterback Michael Vick to keep $16.5 million in bonuses.

The NFL also wants to end the jurisdiction of U.S. District Judge David Doty over labor matters.

Inside The Vick Ruling

•  Barring a successful appeal, Michael Vick can keep all but $3.75 million of the nearly $20 million in bonus money he received from the Atlanta Falcons.

•  Under the NFL players' contract, as interpreted by U.S. District Judge David Doty, teams can't recover roster bonus money, because a player earns it when they make the roster. However, they can recover signing bonus money because that's governed by separate rules.

• The case was argued in Minneapolis because Doty has handled cases involving the NFL's collective bargaining agreement for nearly 20 years.

Doty ruled earlier this month that the Atlanta Falcons would violate the NFL collective bargaining agreement if they tried to recover the roster bonus Vick already received. The league argues that Doty's public comments show he is biased against them.

Vick is serving a 23-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to federal charges in a dogfighting operation. After the plea, the Falcons tried to recover about $20 million in bonuses Vick earned from 2004 to 2007.

"Michael Vick breached his contract and cannot play because he was convicted of a felony and is sitting in jail," the NFL said in a statement. "Despite those facts, the judge held that Vick is entitled to keep nearly $20 million in bonus money paid to him for playing football through the 2014 season."

The league also questioned whether Doty, who presided during the 1992 antitrust suit that led to the 1993 labor agreement after six years without a contract, should continue to oversee its dealings with the NFL Players Association.

"No other industry has its labor relations supervised by a federal judge in the way we do, and at this point, after 15 years of labor peace, it is hard to understand why such oversight is necessary or (why it is) an appropriate use of judicial resources," the statement said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press