As far as the NFL Management Council is concerned, when Lionel Vital, the Washington Redskins' leading rusher during the replacement games, signed a 1987 contract with the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 9, he signed away his rights to share in any playoff money the Redskins might earn. Vital and his agent disagree.
Vital, who gained 346 yards on 80 carries in the Redskins' three replacement games, never was placed on the Bills' active roster.
"I don't want to be a bad guy because I like the organization and I like the people in the organization," he said last night from his home in Loreauville, La., "but they are going to be paying people who sat on the bench and didn't contribute at all. I played a big role in winning three games. If I know the Redskins, they'll consider that."
Players who played in all three replacement games and did not sign with other teams after the strike will receive $27,000 if the Redskins win the Super Bowl, $18,000 if they lose.
Management Council spokesman John Jones said yesterday that he understands Vital's situation but feels the rule concerning Vital "is clear" -- Vital received benefits from the Bills, so he cannot receive them from the Redskins.
"With a guy like Vital, who has been under contract to another team, that clearly makes him ineligible to receive postseason money," Jones said.
The 10 replacement players -- including three Redskins -- who signed future contracts for the 1988 season are eligible for 1987 postseason benefits, the Management Council ruled earlier this week.