Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Falcons entitled to recoup US$20 million from Vick

AP , ATLANTA

The Atlanta Falcons are entitled to recover nearly US$20 million in bonus money paid to disgraced quarterback Michael Vick, an arbitrator ruled on Tuesday.

The players' union said it would appeal.

Stephen Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and special master who led last week's arbitration hearing, sided with the National Football League (NFL) 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 charges for his role in a long-running dogfighting operation, knew he was in violation of the contract when he signed a US$130 million contract in December 2004.

The team said he used proceeds from the contract to fund his illegal activities and sought the repayment of US$19.97 million in bonuses he was paid over the last three years.

Any money the Falcons recover from Vick would be credited to its future salary cap, a huge step in recovering from the loss of the team's franchise player. Atlanta (1-4) are off to a dismal start with Joey Harrington at quarterback.

"We are certainly pleased with today's ruling," the Falcons said in a statement.

"It is the first step in a process that our club has undertaken in an attempt to recoup significant salary cap space that will allow us to continue to build our football team today and in future years," the Falcons said.

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