Though the New York Times’ William Rhoden previously thought the feds’ case against Michael Vick “had the earmarks of overzealous federal prosecutors taking on a high-profile athlete,” the ugly details surrounding the Falcons QB’s indictment have led Rhoden to conclude “we have to embrace the presumption of innocence, but the sad truth is that no matter what happens now, this indictment has thrown Vick for the greatest loss of his career.”

For the decidedly less-skilled Gregg Doyel of CBS Sportsline (above), that’s not nearly enough. Doyel openly professes to hating Vick, “and he hasn’t even been found guilty yet,” because after all, “only the scum of the earth take part in such atrocities.” No need for a trial, folks!

Don’t give me “due process.” Look around you. Do you see a court of law? Do you see a judge, a jury, a lawyer, a bailiff? The NFL is not the U.S. judicial system, and for the sake of this argument, Michael Vick is not a defendant. He’s a football player who has been accused of something so serious, something so heinous, that the NFL cannot in good faith allow him to represent the most popular sports league in this country.

Don’t give me “innocent until proven guilty.” Michael Vick has no inalienable right to play football this season or any season for the Atlanta Falcons. Our colonial militia didn’t throw tea in the Boston Harbor so Michael Vick, some 230 years later, could play football for the Falcons. U.S. soldiers have not died in wars all over the world, and are not dying right now in the Middle East, so Michael Vick can throw a football.

Since Doyel brought it up, I’d be fascinated to learn exactly why he believes U.S. soldiers have died all over the world. Presuming there’s ever a greater imperative than merely protecting American business interests (and I’d like to think that on a couple of prior occasions, that might’ve been the case), isn’t preserving the right to due process something worth fighting for? I realize this might be beyond the grasp of a simpleton like Doyel, but precepts like “innocent until proven guilty” are doubly important when taking into account an accused that (pretrial, anyway) appears to be 101% guilty.

Indeed, the NFL is a private institution. It’s already been established that Roger Goodell, hoping to curry favor with advertisers and hysterical columnists alike, might well share Doyel’s opinion about the worthlessness of letting the legal system play itself out. Note to all future sports commissioners : if you wanna set yourself up as the anti-David Stern to middle America, you’d be well advised to make sure the Players Union in question is as toothless as the NFLPA.

I heard at least two sports yacksters on the radio yesterday who seemed to concur with Doyel, both of them wondering just how they’d explain to their kids that Michael Vick was allowed to play football after being accused of such sickening acts.

I’m loathe to give out much parenting advice, but I suppose you could tell ’em that we live in a country where lynching is (usually) discouraged and even the creepiest of persons are entitled to a full defense before a jury of their peers.

If that seems like a tough concept for a 9 year old (or Gregg Doyel) to absorb, I bet it’s easier than explaining why the Falcons got rid of Matt Schuab.