FITZ BEAT By Larry Fitzgerald—Vikings improve, win 20-7

Last year the Vikings missed the playoffs, winning just six games. After beating Seattle 20-7 Saturday on the road, the team took a big step towards establishing that 2011 is not a rebuilding year.

When you are in the division of the defending Super Bowl champion that includes two playoff teams and NFC runner-up Chicago, you’d better be ready to fight or you can get beat up in your own division. Last year the Vikings were just 1-5 in the NFC North. The Packers and Bears beat them soundly. They also lost to Detroit.

What I saw Saturday was physical, hard-nosed football. Head Coach Leslie Frazier is getting his point across. Seattle was a playoff team last year. I know it’s just the pre-season, but it matters. The Vikings have to establish that last year is behind them.

It starts with your attitude. Donovan McNabb is definitely and upgrade at quarterback. He is motivated and positive and wants to prove he is still an elite quarterback. They were stout on Saturday. It was a complete about-face after the Tennessee game.

The offensive line will be the most critical component to the Vikings. Everything starts up front running the football. Establishing Adrian Peterson is a given.

The foundation of Vikings football is running the ball. McNabb will do and can do what Brett Favre did two years ago. Using the tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and Percy Harvin in the passing game is essential. Defensively, Kevin Williams has to be a beast again inside, and Jared Allen at age 29 has to command double teams off the edge.

This week the Vikings play Saturday at Mall of America Field in the Metrodome. It’s been a long time since the Vikings played inside at home (December 5, 2010, Vikings 38-14 over Buffalo). The roof is up again in the land of bridge and roof collapses and state shutdowns. It’s the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, 7 pm (don’t look up) — the next test for the improving (1-1) Vikings.

Fitzgerald re-signs for $120 million!

Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. agreed to an eight-year $120 million extension with the Arizona Cardinals, which makes him one of the three highest paid players in the National Football League. Fitzgerald is 27 years old; he will turn 28 on August 31.

As you know, the NFL lockout ended less than a month ago. Rookie contracts were slashed by 50 percent. How does a wide receiver get quarterback money?

When Larry was drafted in 2004 by Dennis Green and Rod Graves of the Cardinals with the third overall pick, he was the consensus number-one player in the USA .Quarterback Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers were the top quarterbacks. My goal as a parent was to make certain that Larry got what he deserved.

Before Fitzgerald was drafted, I hired Eugene Parker as his agent. I asked Mr. Parker and the late Paul Lawrence, his associate, if they could get my son a $60 million deal. Parker told me that was what he was aiming for.

Fitzgerald signed (deal No.1) that year the richest rookie contract in NFL history: six-year $60 million, $20 million guaranteed. Because Parker had escalators built into Larry Jr.’s rookie contract for receptions, yards, wins, touchdowns, Pro Bowl, etc., Fitzgerald hit the jackpot, maximizing his contract by reaching all his escalators.

Fitzgerald from day one has had the best agent, attorney, accountant, and financial advisor in the business. I promised his late mother Carol I would protect him.

Fitzgerald has performed at a Pro Bowl level since becoming a pro — five times a Pro Bowler, three times All-Pro, and a record-setting playoff and Super Bowl. Fitzgerald this 2011 season was in the last year of a four-year contract, his second deal that paid him $40 million, $33 million guaranteed.

Fitzgerald had the Cardinals in a bind; if he did not re-sign with them this year, they could lose him without compensation. So the new Cardinals, the Bidwell family, tore up the last year of his contract and added $8 million to it for 2011.

Fitzgerald also helped recruit Kevin Kolb, who the Cardinals traded for a month ago with Philadelphia, giving up a 25-year-old Pro Bowl corner and a second-round 2012 pick. Arizona then signed Kolb to a five-year $63 million deal, $21 million guaranteed.

“This contract is special.” said Parker. “Where he [Fitzgerald] is in the league, he set a new standard for non-quarterbacks. I’m just happy that he did his part on and off the field.” Parker said.

Fitzgerald will get $50 million guaranteed in this deal. With contracts in pro sports, it’s always about the guaranteed money. Fitzgerald is where no NFL player has ever been in terms of guaranteed money.

It’s amazing: $103 million. Fitzgerald leads the Arizona Cardinals to Minneapolis to tussle with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, October 9, at high noon.

I said it on Twitter

Nike’s marketing budget annually is $4-5 billion. Nike spends 70 percent of their budget on soccer, not basketball, football or baseball athletes.

Wall Street Journal trying to marry off Black women, most unmarried group of people in the U.S.? According to WSJ, single Black Women are at 70 percent. Is it too many guys like Kris Humphries marrying Kim Kardashian types? Or is it economic or cultural forces, or too many brothers in jail?

DeMaurice Smith on why the NFLPA went to bat for Terrell Pryor: “Player’s career is so short, making him wait a year effectively ends his career.”

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 info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.