FITZ BEAT By Larry Fitzgerald—Vikings have plenty of work to do

Now that football is back, what have we learned? In the Vikings’ case, we’ve learned that they are not ready — they need work.

After losing 14-3 at Tennessee, the Vikings are far from ready. That includes their offensive line, secondary and passing game. Against the Titans, the offensive line protection was not good, the run defense was not good, and the secondary play was not good.

Physically, they were beaten up front. This year we will hear excuses about missed OTAs and mini-camps, but the reality is that the players and coaches knew the deal.

They knew the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the owners, the business of football, had to be settled and agreed on. They did not know when, but they knew it would happen.

For players who need to be in structured workouts with coaches blowing whistles and reminding them of fundamental mistakes, many of those guys will struggle this year. For veteran players, they had the best of both worlds.

They had true freedom the last five months, really for the first time, to decide how much or how little to work out. For some it was time to decide to move on with their lives and pursue post-career opportunities.

Some of the football we saw the first weekend back was good, but most of it was as expected — not very good. Remember, pre-season or regular-season fans everywhere pay the same amount. The NFL does not do discounts or refunds.

So if the quality of play is not up to par, it always falls on the players. The TV and radio announcers will never blame the owners, because they know where their bread is buttered.

The coaches who have the ability to bring the mental preparation and organization of what it takes to win will have the most success in 2011. Those coaches who are prisoners of habit and have to have a lot of physical contact practices will struggle this year.

The NFC North might be the toughest division in football in 2011. The Vikings, who finished 6-10 last year, changed leadership at head coach (Brad Childress to Leslie Frazier) and at quarterback (Bret Favre to Donovan McNabb), and with new systems and coordinators have much work to do.

They still have plenty of talent. However, the talent only responds to leadership they believe in. That will be the test for the Vikings and everybody else.

I said it on Twitter

Chances of getting HIV/AIDS if you are Black is eight times that of a White person.

I don’t think the NFL should allow ex-Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor to be eligible for the August 17 Supplemental Draft.

Irresponsible statement by Golf Channel analyst Brandell Chamblee to compare Tiger Woods with Ty Cobb: Cobb was a known racist, and he played Major League Baseball, a team game. Golf is an individual game.

If Steve Williams had not asked Tiger to go work for Adam Scott while Tiger was hurt, he would still be working for Tiger. Tiger fired him because he crossed the loyalty line.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit