Hearing in Vick Contract Case Done, Parties Told to Expect Ruling By End of Next Week

Today's Michael Vick hearing is over. University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Burbank, the NFL's special master, told the parties to expect a ruling by the end of next week.

Representatives of the Atlanta Falcons argued to Burbank that Vick should be forced to return about $20 million of the $29.5 million in roster bonuses in his 10-year, $130 million contract. Lawyers for the NFL Players Association, representing Vick, argued before Burbank that the Falcons are entitled to none of that money, based in large part because of the precedent set in a previous case in which it was ruled that the Denver Broncos could not force wide receiver Ashley Lelie to return money paid to him in the form of an option bonus.

Today's hearing was held at the Penn law school and lasted about 2 hours 15 minutes. Burbank's decision can be appealed to U.S. District Judge David Doty.

"We had a full opportunity to state our case," Richard Berthelsen, the general counsel for the Players Association, said after the hearing. "We emphasized it's just like the Ashley Lelie case we won last year, where Judge Doty ruled an option bonus is money already earned. Logic dictates if an option bonus is money already earned, a roster bonus is, too."

The Falcons also are pursuing a prorated portion of the $7.5 million signing bonus in Vick's contract, the other component of the $37 million in total bonus money in the deal that the suspended quarterback signed with the team in December 2004. But that forfeiture claim is being pursued in a separate arbitration case.

By Mark Maske |  October 4, 2007; 2:38 PM ET  | Category:  Falcons , League
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