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Spotlight on Crime in the NFL; Service Dog Connects Two Army Soldiers; Alec Baldwin's Twitter Breakdown; "The Heat" to Open This Weekend

Aired June 28, 2013 - 08:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It is official. It is Friday. And I welcome you back to NEW DAY. I'm Chris Cuomo.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan. It's Friday, June 28th. Let's get straight to Michaela Pereira for five things to know for your NEW DAY.


All right, at number one, there could be an important and emotional testimony in George Zimmerman's trial today. The lead investigator, the medical examiner, and Trayvon Martin's parents could take the stand.

Senator Chuck Grassley wants answers today from Attorney General Eric Holder about the FBI's use of drones to spy domestically.

The House Oversight Committee will today decide if former IRS official Lois Learner waived her Fifth Amendment rights during testimony last month about the IRS targeting scandal.

And today, a parade for the Stanley Cup champs, the Chicago Blackhawks. The parade route ends in Grant Park. Set to be a nice day in the 80s there.

And at number five, it could be one of the summer's biggest blockbusters, "White House Down". Opens this weekend. Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, teaming up to protect the White House from terrorists.

And you should know we always update the five things to know. Go to for the very latest.

CUOMO: Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: This week's murder arrest of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez raises a lot of questions about the NFL and the law. Since this year's Super Bowl 27 NFL players have been arrested. Does the league have a real problem on its hands is what some folks are asking this morning.

CNN's Jason Carroll looked into it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That surveillance was then destroyed.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aaron Hernandez's arrest on murder charges is the latest brush with the law associated with NFL players. This picture may look like a team's roster but it shows more than two dozen players arrested for various crimes, ranging from DUI to misdemeanor assault, over the past year according to the NFL.

MICHAEL MCCANN, LEGAL ANALYST, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED & SI.COM: We don't know if there are convictions in any of these arrests. And secondly, it's still a relatively small percent of all NFL players.

CARROLL: The percentage may be small but the arrests attract a spotlight, like when police charged rookie linebacker Ausar Walcott with attempted murder for beating a man outside a New Jersey club this week. Although they both pled not guilty, Wallcot and Hernandez both had previous encounters with the law.

KEVIN ADLER, PRESIDENT, ENGAGE MARKETING: The league finds themselves this situations like this, not the least of which is at the team level, team player personnel executives looking past a player's very public history, especially in the case of Aaron Hernandez, for the sake of what they do for the team on the field.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: OK, so we'll open it up for questions.

CARROLL: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell toughened the league's conduct policy six years ago, making it easier to sanction players for infractions. Goodell declined our request for an interview but an NFL spokesman told CNN the average arrest rate per year of NFL players is consistently lower than the general population.

T.J. WARD, CLEVELAND BROWNS: A few players can make the whole league look a certain way.

CARROLL: Like the vast majority of NFL players, Cleveland Brown safety T.J. Ward says he has not been in trouble but understands how just one arrest can tarnish the brand.

WARD: A couple issues can make, you know, the whole league look a certain way. It's all about perception especially in our society. It's all about what people perceive and not necessarily what's true.

CARROLL: If truth lies in numbers, consider this. Nielsen ratings for the past NFL regular season were the highest in the decade. Despite everything, fans keep watching.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Jason, thanks so much. So let's talk more about these arrests and what it means to the league.

Let's bring in CNN's Rachel Nichols as well as sports agent Doug Eldridge. Great to see you both. Rachel, first to you. I mean, you heard it in Jason Carroll's piece. You have 27 people arrested since February that are NFL players. But still, as Jason also points out, a small percentage of all of the players in the NFL. Do you think the league has a problem? Do you think the league has a problem in culture or is it something else?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: I don't think the league has an actual problem in that, if you look at the numbers, there are 1,700 about players in the NFL. If you look at the number of arrests since the Super Bowl, you're talking about just less than 2 percent. The FBI puts out statistics about the number of arrests as per the general U.S. population. That's more like 4.5 percent. So you're not talking about guys being criminals to a greater degree. In fact, they're sort of model citizens if you're going to look at those numbers.

But it's the perception. It's the profile, the high profile nature of these cases. And what the NFL has done to battle that is that Roger Goodell is a law and order commissioner. He's upped suspensions. He's increased the power that he has to issue those suspensions before even there's a conviction in these cases. So they've been trying to clean up the image of the NFL. But in terms of an actual problem, look, you're going to get in a group of nearly 2,000 people some guys who are breaking the law. It happens if you gathered 2,000 people on the street outside.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and Doug, I think the thing a lot of people are asking is it something the league has turned a blind eye to with some of these up and coming star players? Because there, some would argue there's evidence in the past that some of these guys have had trouble. Do you think in what you've seen in the league that they are turning a blind eye if they see real potential that this guy can be a star?

DOUG ELDRIDGE, SPORTS AGENT: I definitely don't think so. You have to remember a couple of things. First of all, the league does tremendous due diligence in their investigation process prior to engaging this young men. And then once they're in the league, matter of fact, the current crop of NFL rookies just completed the NFL rookie symposium which engages situations just like this. It addresses the if/then paradigm. If you're addressed with this circumstance, then you need to do this. Trying to remove any and all possibility for bad things to happen, for lack of better description.

But as I think Rachel pointed out, and we heard in the lead in, perception is reality. So even though, relatively speaking, this is certainly a small fraction of the larger NFL population, it only takes a couple of these instances for the broader picture and the larger implication to be that the league is in trouble and there's a discipline issue. And I think to Rachel's point, the thing we need to look at is these guys have larger target, they're in a brighter spotlight, there's higher expectations placed on them, and a lower tolerance for indiscretion. As the old saying goes, "To whom much is given, much is expected." BOLDUAN: And to your point earlier, Rachel, I mean, Roger Goodell you said has kind of put in place stricter conduct rules. Is there more the commissioner can do?

NICHOLS: I mean, you cannot foresee that any of this is going to happen. They did due diligence on Aaron Hernandez. And there's something to be said that this guy had enough of a checkered past that the Patriots should have been more careful with him. But there's a lot of guys that could go either way, just like there's a lot of people in the rest of our society who could go either way. And you hope you give them the support that they need to move lives in the right direction.

And the NFL has been increasing that support. More teams have psychologists on staff. They've been increasing rookie symposium that was just talked about. They've instituted for all rookies eight sessions throughout the season to address their mental health and their off the field issues. So they are trying to put some of these in place, but maybe they need to do more. This incident certainly shows us there is room there.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it definitely grabs our attention for us to be asking these questions. Rachel, it's always great to see you. Doug, great to meet you. Thanks so much for coming in.

I mean, one point to be made, Chris, is that despite anything that happens, fans are still watching the game.

CUOMO: Absolutely. But it's about the kids. The kids look at the players as heroes. So you have to balance how good are they on the field, how good are they off the field. It's been a battle for a long time.

This is a tough story, so you know what we need right now? The good stuff. Every day we feature good news out there. Today's edition, 88 years young, Sidney Richardson. Take a listen.


SIDNEY RICHARDSON, GOODYEAR EMPLOYEE: When I get up in the morning, five days a week, I know where I'm going. I'm going to Goodyear for eight hours a day.


CUOMO: Sidney's been working at the Goodyear plant in Gatson, Alabama, for -- wait for it -- 70 years. When he told me that when he first walked in the gates, FDR was president. Gas cost 15 cents a gallon. Goodyear's pulling out all the stops to celebrate Sidney's 70thd work anniversary. We've got barbecues, gifts, even a certificate from the governor.

The best gift, maybe? In my opinion. His own private parking spot so Sidney doesn't have to walk so far to work. And to be clear, he is still working. So 88 years young. All of the dedication, the commitment, all of the great things he has going for him. But it turns out the reason that he keeps working is going to make sense to just about anybody. Take a listen.


REPORTER: You just get so much joy out of working, right?


REPORTER: Most people complain about - truth.


CUOMO: Did you see that sign?

BOLDUAN: I love him.

CUOMO: He goes, that's the truth. He's learned this. The money. That's part of the reason he's working. But just incredible ethic. Great guy. I'm trying to find out what made him able to stay so long. Nobody forced his retirement. He must be so good that he broke through all of those barriers. Great example to people about commitment and just being great over time. Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Congratulations.

CUOMO: Inspired by this story? You should be. Want to send more to us? Please do us. Tweet, post on Facebook, use the #NEWDAY. Yes, Michaela?

PEREIRA: I have some good stuff of my own to add. Yes, good stuff. Sweet stuff. Remember a story last week. I was telling you about a couple that got married on Jetblue and then they had cake pops to celebrate? And these two heathens had never heard of a cake pop. We have cake pops, people. Bring on the cake pops.

CUOMO: Surprise cake pops?

PEREIRA: Where are they? Here they come.

BOLDUAN: Exciting cake pop day!

PEREIRA: These are cake pops from Cake Rays right here in New York City. And I want you guys to see they have very -- here's a cake pop. Pass one to Rachel. Vanilla or chocolate?

NICHOLS: Vanilla.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to eat Chris' head.

CUOMO: I'm going to bite your face.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to literally bite my face off.

PEREIRA: Now you guys can experience a cake pop, OK?

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Michaela.

PEREIRA: That's good stuff.

CUOMO: Let's break the barrier here.


BOLDUAN: I love you.

PEREIRA: See, I wanted you to stick around for that.


CUOMO: You're never supposed to cross the lucite (ph) barrier but we did for the cake pop.

BOLDUAN: All right. Karen Shirk provides service dogs to people with disabilities including vets injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, one of her dogs connected two soldiers in a way she never could have imagined. Take a look.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Back in March, CNN hero Karen Shirk got an e-mail from U.S. army sergeant Derek McConnell. He'd lost both of his legs in Afghanistan and was desperate for a service dog.

KAREN SHIRK, CNN HERO: I sent him a picture of Gabriel and said how would you like this dog? He was so excited. He'd text me every day.

COOPER: Then one day she didn't hear from him.

SHIRK: I went to his Facebook page and I'm, like, no.

COOPER: Derek had died in the night at Walter Reed Medical Center. Devastated, Karen spread the word to find another veteran to take Gabriel. That's when the wife of Army Captain Jake Murphy heard about it.

Like Derek, Jake had also lost his legs in Afghanistan. Karen soon realized they had much more in common. They'd served in the same unit and Derek had helped medically evacuate Jake. Then hours later, Derek sustained his own injuries.

Now the two soldiers share another connection, Gabriel.

JAKE MURPHY, U.S. ARMY CAPTAIN: I don't know if it's fate, but if Derek can't be here, it's almost fitting that I get Gabriel as my service dog. Derek will always be in my thoughts.

SHIRK: This was kind of bittersweet, but I just think it was meant to be.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY everybody. It's time for the "Pop 4" with Nischelle Turner. Good morning.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Good morning guys you know the Cuomo ladies are here this morning and so I need them to earmuffs for this first one a little bit. Sorry girls.


TURNER: Yes summer 2014 is getting hotter. Our number four story this morning "Fifty Shades of Grey" they haven't read it Chris I tell you they haven't. It has a director, a production house and now an opening date -- August 1st, 2014.

Now all we need is a cast. I have some ideas. I say Emma Roberts and Ian Somerhalder, Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele, that's it.

Our number three story this morning, on Andy Cohen's "Watch What Happens Live," Martha Stewart revealed some pretty surprising things about herself. Ms. Martha saying she has had a one-night stand and that she's also sexted.

PEREIRA: Really.

TURNER: What? Chris just looks like --

CUOMO: Unappetizing.

TURNER: Listen, all I have to say is good on you, Ms. Martha. for being 71 and realizing you've got to keep it spicy. OK, it's all about girl power this morning, guys.

Our number two story, early estimates forecast that "The Heat" starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy will be America's number one movie this weekend and there's a pretty big deal about this. I screened it last night. First of all. Melissa McCarthy is brilliant.

CUOMO: Genius.

TURNER: Just brilliant.

PEREIRA: Brilliant.

TURNER: Yes. genius, brilliant, one more one word.


TURNER: Funny. There you go and "The Heat" is scheduled to earn $42 million this weekend. The good thing about this is women usually don't open films only like 15 percent of women's lead -- women lead films in Hollywood.

PEREIRA: Really.

CUOMO: Respect it.

TURNER: Especially not summer blockbusters. You never see a woman opening a summer blockbuster. PEREIRA: Right.

CUOMO: Good for them.

TURNER: So good going. girls.

All right. our number one story this morning, Alec Baldwin letting loose on Twitter again. Now look we can't repeat some of the things that he was saying last night. But he was definitely ranting and he was doing this from the Alec Baldwin Foundation Twitter account. Yes.

A report was out that his wife was tweeting from inside the funeral of actor James Gandolfini. Alec didn't take too kindly to that report. The Twitter account for the foundation has since been taken down but some of the things he said, he went after the writer of that article and he said "I'm going to find you." I can't repeat what he said but he said, "I'm going to mess you up."


PEREIRA: Mess you up.

TURNER: Yes and so I would just say to Alec take a page from the Herm Edwards former Jets coach School of Technology, don't press send. Think about it.

BOLDUAN: Take a break. Perfect.

TURNER: There you go.

BOLDUAN: With this music change.

TURNER: I can take a breath now.

BOLDUAN: You can take a breath.

CUOMO: Well done. Nischelle. Happy Friday to you everybody. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to finish strong. They are claiming the world record for group prancercise.


CUOMO: One of the things John Berman learned on the Internets.


CUOMO: Strong. That time of the morning -- John Berman here to tell us what he learned on the Internet today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You never heard this playlist. This is sort of like you make the call Internet today. There's a couple of videos that I want to show you. Twitter is talking a lot about them. Twitter talking a lot about the new promo for "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel. It's about a story releasing Snuffy the Seal -- Seal rather back into the ocean. See what happens to Snuffy the Seal.

PEREIRA: Oh I don't like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just moments away from releasing Snuffy, the rescued seal back into the ocean and now you see it. Snuffy's triumphant return.


BERMAN: Yes it ended badly for the seal. There's been a mixed reaction online, some people tweeting the "Shark Week" commercial made me cry. Some people tweeting the most epic "Shark Week" commercial ever, funny, tragic. What do you guys say?

PEREIRA: Circle of life.

BERMAN: I say it was called life and that made me laugh out loud.

There's also a debate brewing online about something that happened in the new "Superman" movie. A few frames in it that could be very revealing a kind of a hidden message. You have to look at this. In this few frames does the current "Superman." Henry Cavill morphed just for a second into Christopher Reeve. You have to watch it again and again. This is all CGI.

BOLDUAN: It's right there.

PEREIRA: Oh right there, right there.

BERMAN: I think he does. I think it does. I think it's a tribute to Christopher Reeve there. It seems to morph into Christopher Reeve.

PEREIRA: Yes oh my.

BOLDUAN: Yes wow.

BERMAN: That's pretty cool. Isn't it?

PEREIRA: The fact that someone caught that.

BERMAN: Yes, they have a good eye.

PEREIRA: Yes watching very closely.

CUOMO: If they did that, good on them.


Christopher Reeve was the man. He was great.

BOLDUAN: Thank you John.

CUOMO: Really good stuff. All right just before 9:00 a.m. Happy Friday, everybody. That is it for NEW DAY. Thanks for being with us.

Let's go to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. TGIF, my friend Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh you too have a fantastic weekend. Thanks to all of you.

NEWSROOM starts now.