Sunday, August 26, 2007

Recoupment or Windfall?

Reports have emerged that the Falcons are going to seek to recover $22 million of signing bonus money from Michael Vick. It is too early to predict whether the Falcons will be successful in recouping any or all of that money. Maybe even the players union will make an appearance. Maybe they will have something to say about recouping money from a player that is able to play (Vick's incarceration likely won't begin for months) and whether Goodell is making suspension determinations in the name of discipline or providing windfalls for owners.

Still, there are some reasons beyond the text of the player contract or the collective bargaining agreement why the Falcons might want to go easy on this one.

Firstly, Michael Vick made the Falcons PLENTY of money. Far more than $22 million or any salary they have paid Michael Vick. He sells the seats, the luxury boxes and the jerseys... Or at least he did. The Falcons can just invest their number 7 profits and collect the interest. If you're going to milk a man dry, at least do it in the Shield tradition and make him leave everything on the field.

The Falcons shouldn't necessarily be rewarded for their own conduct concerning the Vick matter. Arthur Blank chose to hover in the shadow of Goodell. That was his choice and his choice alone. If Blank was really about the bottom line, which is always clearer than the murky path of good public relations, he would be doing everything he could to keep his gift horse on the field. Arthur Blank is in the unique position of being dependent on essentially one player. The Falcons, as a team, have little goodwill in Atlanta. PETA, while loud and annoying, is not numerous enough to obstruct all the gates of the Georgia Dome. Another team is going to sign Michael Vick when he is available again. Blank could have chosen to ride the rough patch out and carried on with business. You can't give away money and then ask for it back.

Why should the Falcons be able to recoup all those millions from Michael when the Falcons could have spent a few thousand dollars on a private investigator? Then they would have known about Vick's activities and potentially been in a position to control them. The government was able to detail Vick's activities in a matter of weeks. Yet, the Falcons gave him over a hundred million dollars over a course of years, and they plead ignorance over how he spent his spare time. That's laughable. And just negligent.

Only an NFL emboldened by seemingly limitless powers over the players would sign off on the Falcons doing this. However, any agent with a brain is going to realize that the signing bonus is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Some players may instead opt to insist on higher base salaries or front loaded contracts. If that comes to fruition, the whole league will pay.

And what about the fans? For months, it seems like I have been waking up to bad news about the Falcons every morning. Michael Vick and the Falcons have caused me an incredible amount of fatigue. I want it to be over. I want to move on and enjoy sports and have fun with it. Yet, the Falcons choose to subject me and other sports fans to morning headlines about the status of their litigation with Michael Vick. They could choose to propose a reasonable settlement that would provide little consternation in lieu of playing hardball. There is difference between exercising the rights that are technically available to you and being fair. Instead, they are volunteering to jump on top of the pile on that is smothering all football fans, not just Vick. Please, spare me.


Miranda said...

The Players Union might make an appearance?? The NFL Players Union?? the one Gene Upshaw heads??LMAO!!! LOL!! Girl, you funny........that cracked me up..the players union....(tee-hee)Upshaw's testicles were removed years ago....I would be shocked if the players union even mumbled.

John said...

They are going after Jake Plummer's money for retiring, they blackmailed Ricky Williams into playing by going after his money. Players have to realize that when you get those big signing bonuses you have sold yourself to that team for the duration of the contract. Deal w/ the devil, baby.

The HCIC said...

Miranda, I just threw out there. I could barely type for laughing.

Thanks, John, for reminding me of some of the other examples that the union has abandoned their constituency. I plan a more comprehensive post on the shortcoming of the union later this week.

Gosh, should we just bundle up a packet of blog posts and send them to the various player representatives? They seem to have no other guidance.

Jarrett Carter said...

I don't think it's unreasonable.

Players know that the real money is in the signing bonus, and even there they got you by the bizzalls, even if you get hurt. As such, it's just one more way to be embarrassed if you cut the fool.

JJ said...

Football is too violent a sport and a career too short to not have SOME guarnteed money.

If it's not going to be the signing bonus then it needs to be something. And agents and the players lawyers need to get together and start figuring contracts that will help the players they represent because the union definitely isn't going to do it.

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