Michael Vick has taken another blind side hit - and an expensive one, at that.
Already facing prison time, the disgraced quarterback lost the first round in his financial battle with the Atlanta Falcons when an arbitrator ruled Tuesday that Michael Vick must repay $20 million in bonuses he got from the team while secretly bankrolling a gruesome dogfighting ring.
The case is far from over. The NFL players' union said it will appeal the ruling by Stephen B. Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor.
The Falcons argued that Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in the long-running dogfighting operation, knew he was in violation of the contract when he signed a 10-year, $130 million deal in December 2004.
The team said Michael Vick used money from that contract to fund his illicit ring and sought the repayment of $19,970,000 he was paid over three years.
"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 team."
In a very technical ruling, Burbank said the Falcons are entitled to $3.75 million of the $7.5 million bonus that Michael Vick was paid after signing the contract in 2004, $13.5 million of the $22.5 million roster, reporting and playing bonuses he was paid in 2005 and 2006, and $2.72 million of the $7 million roster, reporting and playing bonus that he received this year.