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Barbara Bush on Sarah Palin: Stay in Alaska; Angst at the Airport; TSA Keeping Enhanced Security in Place; Bieber Fever Heats Up at American Music Awards; Hard Hits, Dangerous Game; Michael Vicks' Comeback: Remarkable?

Aired November 22, 2010 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Thanks so much for being with us. It's Monday, November 22nd. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Acosta. John is on assignment this morning. Here are this morning's top stories. Lots to talk about this morning.

Another dramatic mine rescue this morning this time in China. Twenty- nine miners were trapped underground in a flooded mine for more than 24 hours. Just hours ago, live TV pictures captured the emotional scene as rescuers pulled the Chinese miners out of the shaft one-by- one.

CHETRY: So, what does former first lady Barbara Bush think about Sarah Palin making a run for the White House in 2012? Well, Mrs. Bush told CNN's Larry King, quote, "I think she's very happy in Alaska and I hope she'll stay there." So she also said she was beautiful.

ACOSTA: It doesn't sound like an endorsement.

CHETRY: You can see Larry King's entire interview of Barbara Bush and her husband, the former president, tonight on CNN.

ACOSTA: Ireland is getting a bailout. They struck a deal with the European Union on a massive financial rescue plan. The deal involves tens of billions of dollars to stabilize the country's banks. Ireland will use the money to pay off the current $26 billion debt and shore up banks that have been reeling since the housing market crashed two years ago.

CHETRY: Scary moments for nearly 200 passengers on a Delta flight from New York to Moscow when the plane was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off from JFK. The left engine on the Boeing 767 shut down. The plane landed without incident. Delta says it's still not sure, though, what caused the engine to fail.

ACOSTA: Up first this hour, the pat-down showdown, some mixed signals this morning from the head of the TSA. First the agency announced enhanced pat-downs at airports will continue as is during this busy holiday travel week even though air travelers are growing angrier by the day.


JOHN PISTOLE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: No, we're not changing the policy because of that because of the risks that have been identified because of the current threat.


CHETRY: But then this morning, the TSA administrator appears to be leaving a little bit more wiggle room in that policy. He's now insisting his agency will work to make screening methods as, quote, "minimally invasive" as possible and adapting security measures and evaluating them as well.

So what does that mean if you're traveling this busy Thanksgiving season? Well, Carol Costello joins us live from Reagan National Airport in Washington. So we even saw images this weekend of children who set the metal detector off, and in one instance the dad decided to take the shirt off of the kid during an enhanced pat-down.

And why are people really upset. What is the TSA saying about this, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for children 12 years old and under, there is now a modified pat-down is in order. What is a modified pat-down, we're not sure, but apparently it means no touching in the groin area, but I can't say 100 percent sure.

Let's take a look at the YouTube video you've referred to because this has made airline passengers even more anxious. This was taken at a Salt Lake City airport. You see the father in front of his child. You can see the child whip his shirt off. Apparently the child took the shirt off to get the process rolling so the two wouldn't miss their flight, right?

But still the father was visibly upset. This was taken by another passenger standing by him on a cell phone. He posted on YouTube. And what this all has meant -- this combined with, you know, all of the complaints from passengers we heard in the previous two weeks, that the TSA says it will now have a modified pat-down procedure for children 12 years old and under, which apparently won't be as intrusive.

But if the child sets off the metal detector, it doesn't matter the age. They're going to get the full pat-down. So that's exactly what that means. And if you refuse, you could be fined $11,000 or kept off your flight.

CHETRY: Seems like a big public relations nightmare, though. It's being spoofed on "Saturday Night Live." you hear these horror stories. And in the days of video and YouTube and people are, you know, sharing their stories, and showing, you know, what they're experiencing. And it doesn't seem to bode well for the TSA right now.

ACOSTA: And in this age of cell phone cameras, you're going to get one of these clips a day now it seems. COSTELLO: Although I must say, I've talked with a number of passengers here, and they don't seem all that upset. They're anxious, yes. But they're more than willing to go through the full body scanners, saying it's for safety sake. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I did talk to one mother with three young children all below the age of 12. She had a conversation with them before they went through the full-body scanner. But she said she was going to make her kids go through the full-body scanner so that nobody touched her children.

So that was the choice she made, but she had to explain that to her children before they went through that even if they went through the full-body scanner, pretty much somebody was seeing everything.

ACOSTA: Yes, very unsettling. And after all of these years we've been traveling through the airports, all these years, and then all of a sudden, you know, this controversy has the potential to just grind down air travel. This must be very nerve-wracking for passengers this holiday season.

COSTELLO: Although, to put things in perspective, I've been standing here since 5:00 this morning eastern time, and --

ACOSTA: So far, so good?

COSTELLO: It's smooth sailing. Nobody's fighting. Nobody's taking pictures with their cell phones. People are going through the full- body scanners or submitting to the pat-downs. There isn't a huge outcry at Reagan National.

CHETRY: Good. That's why flying early is always good, as well. Things start to get hairy in the afternoon with the line. Carol, thanks so much.

ACOSTA: Meanwhile, something that could cause more problems air travelers, national opt-out day. It's an Internet-based campaign to get air travelers to boycotts pat downs and scanners. This Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year, right now, well over 7,000 people have endorsed the movement on Facebook. And if enough people refuse it could slow travel down to a crawl.

And the TSA is reminding people that boycotting security procedures could lead to an $11,000 fine and civil action. So you may want to keep that in mind.

TSA administrator John Pistole insists he's trying to strike the right balance between privacy and security. We'll ask him what that means when he joins us live on "AMERICAN MORNING" in less than ten minutes.

CHETRY: We know many of you are getting an early start to your Thanksgiving travel. We wanted to make sure you were up to date with the weather delays and also the forecasts that are going to be affecting your travel throughout the week. Along the bottom of the screen all morning long we'll be cycling through conditions at major airports across the country.

ACOSTA: And that's good information to have.

To politics now -- if Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she better not count on Barbara Bush's vote. The former first lady appears tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE" along with her husband, the former president, and says he finds the Tea Party, quote, "confusing." And Barbara Bush pulls no punches when Larry asks for her feelings about the former Alaska governor. Here's a preview.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What's your read about Sarah Palin?

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Well, I sat next to her once. I thought she was beautiful. And I think she's very happy in Alaska, and I hope she'll stay there.


ACOSTA: Ouch. You can catch the entire interview with George and Barbara Bush tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE" at 9:00 eastern right here on CNN.

CHETRY: Barbara Bush has never been one to mince words.

ACOSTA: That's true.

CHETRY: New nuclear fears surrounding North Korea this morning. For the first time, the north admits to enriching uranium, even showing off a brand new nuclear plant to American scientists. North Korea insists that the plant is for nuclear power production, but U.S. officials worry it could be used to make nuclear bombs.

Also, some surprising comments from the Pope over the weekend. He says that condoms may help in the fight against the spread of aids. Keep in mind the Roman Catholic Church firmly opposes artificial birth control. Analysts say it's a significant move because the church has never before considered exceptions.

In this case, the exception they're referring to is HIV positive male prostitutes.

ACOSTA: That is creating quite a stir, the Pope's comments there.

And St. Louis, Missouri, is topping the list of the most dangerous cities in America, a dubious distinction. In a new study, St. Louis beat out last year's top-ranked city Camden, New Jersey. As for the rest of the top five, Detroit and Flint, Michigan, as well as Oakland, California. The ranking are based on violent crimes by population.

Some drinking glasses being marketed to children contain dangerous levels of lead and cadmium. A follow-up to a discovery earlier this summer involving the Shrek glasses. The enamel can get on children's hands and eventually get in their mouth. Among the brands tested, Coca Cola, Walt Disney, Burger king, and McDonald's.


Well, it's beginning of the end for the "Harry Potter" film franchise. No glasses to worry about here. It's going out with a bang at the box office. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part One" debuted making $125 million in the U.S. and $330 million worldwide. That's the best opening of any "Harry Potter" film, and not a bad idea, right, Kiran, split these movies into two?

CHETRY: I love it. Part one.

ACOSTA: You can make $125 million each opening weekend. Why not?

CHETRY: And we'll bring you back in for part two.

ACOSTA: They don't call it show business for nothing.

CHETRY: Exactly.


ACOSTA: Well, hard hits, dangerous game, that's the NFL these days. And our Dr. Sanjay Gupta begins a special series on pro football's concussion crisis. He's been talking a lot about this and has more information on it, a very important subject.

CHETRY: Also the man in the middle of the airport pat-down showdown, TSA administrator John Pistole will be joining us live on "AMERICAN MORNING" as we get ready to deal with a busy, busy thanksgiving travel week.

ACOSTA: Over the river and through the pat-down.

CHETRY: That's right. What does he say about the enhanced pat-downs? He's going to join us coming up. It's 12 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Fifteen minutes past the hour now.

More than a million of you will be flying this holiday week for Thanksgiving and you're probably hearing a lot about these enhanced pat-downs and getting prepared, wondering what you'll do if you're in that situation. Well, the head of the TSA has been saying that they're here to stay, at least for now. And with the busy travel day approaching, a mini revolt erupting across the country over the new enhanced imaging scanners and that could mean long lines at the airports across the country. In fact, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to be sympathetic about the whole thing. Here's what she said when asked.


BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Would you submit to one of these pat-downs?

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Not if I could avoid it. No, I mean, who would?


CHETRY: Well, we're getting some new statements this morning also from the top man at the TSA, statements that may suggest a softening in the procedures. John Pistole joins us live from Washington now.

Thanks so much for being with us.


CHETRY: What do you think when the Secretary of State says she'd like to avoid it if possible? Who would want to go through it?

PISTOLE: Well, I think she's reflecting the views of some people who are concerned about how we best blend security with privacy while recognizing, I think, all of her statement was played, she clearly sees the importance and the focus on security. So how do we best balance those two for these particular travelers? The bottom line is, everybody wants to arrive safely at their destination. So how can we work with the traveling public in partnership to assure that?

CHETRY: So you in your most recent statement said the screenings would be adapted as conditions warrant to make them as minimally invasive as possible. Will passengers be seeing a change in the screening techniques?

PISTOLE: We're always looking at ways that we can evolve our technology and our protocols for how we go about doing this. In the short-term, there will not be any changes, but what I'm looking at is how can we best use the information we have, both the intelligence from overseas such as what we saw this weekend from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula about how they design and conceal the toner cartridge bombs in cargo flights out of Yemen that coupled with the thoroughness that we believe is appropriate. But how can we best be informed by, for example, GAO or inspector general who has been successful many, many times at getting through security because we weren't thorough enough. So we're looking at that and seeing if there is any basis or any way that we can modify and yet provide that level of security that everybody wants.

CHETRY: Well, I want to show you some video that's online right now. It was apparently shot this past Friday at Salt Lake City airport. It shows a young boy going through a pat down. And the person who shot the video was in the line behind them. The clearly frustrated father because the boy set off the metal detector and they're, you know, continuing this pat-down. And finally, I guess the boy's father pulled his shirt off because they were delayed for so long. He was afraid he wasn't going to make the flight. A lot of people that see this asked, where's the common sense here with the pat-down of a little boy?

PISTOLE: Well, as I understand, I don't have all the facts. So what I understand is when the boy walked through the metal detector and alarms, his father decided to take matters into his own hands and took his shirt off, saw there was no issue there, and so the father and the security officer helped the boy get the shirt back on. And they went along. So that's the information I have now. So clearly common sense has to play a role in this. But we also have to remember, how can we best provide the best possible security while working with the traveling public as a partnership.

CHETRY: Right. So you have 400 machines right now in 70 airports. If you go through the machines and everything's clear, you don't have to go through the enhanced pat-down. You're going to have 1.5 million people flying over the Thanksgiving holiday, which obviously means that there's not going to be enough of those machines for all of the flying public. So how do you, you know, make sure this goes smoothly and that you don't have more situations where people feel violated?

PISTOLE: Sure. And actually we're having over two million people a day travel, especially Tuesday and Wednesday and next Sunday, the busiest travel days. So the advancing technology is simply our best technology that will detect the plots that we saw, for example, on Christmas day with the non-metallic device that would not be picked up on a walk-through metal detector. People can opt out of that. And if they do opt out, then we just ask that they have a thorough pat-down to make sure there's not a Christmas day bomb.

CHETRY: Right. I understand, but Abdulmutallab, the Christmas day bomber, who hid the PETN explosive in his underwear, would that have been found during an enhanced pat-down?

PISTOLE: Well, we believe it would. And that gives us the best opportunity that would detect that. Without the enhanced pat-down, it obviously would not be found. And so we have vulnerabilities there that we've tried to address in light of that intelligence and also in light of the covert testing that was done by GAO and the inspector general.

CHETRY: I'm not trying to be graphic, but I'm just wondering, how would that have been found? I mean, it was hidden. It was sewn into his underwear. How would that have been found during an enhanced pat- down?

PISTOLE: Well, with advance imaging of technology, first, it would show up as an anomaly and then that would be resolved through the pat- down procedure. If it's simply the pat-down, walk through the metal detector and then the pat-down, then it would be detected by the enhanced pat-down procedures that we have. That's exactly the reason that we put these into place to make sure we don't have other people like this Christmas day bomber trying to kill hundreds of people on passenger airlines.

CHETRY: Yes, as far as we know, no explosives have ever been found on a person traveling domestically from the U.S. to another U.S. location. You know, overall, a lot of people say is this the best use of resources domestically when they've never stopped -- I mean, they've never had a problem?

PISTOLE: Well, we know, of course, there have been terrorists here in the U.S. It's a question of whether it's a Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City or air crude (ph) off, the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. And so we have people who want to cause the government harm and other things. The fact that we have not had an instance here domestically, I think we're very fortunate. And look, our job is to try to make sure that everybody gets home safely. So how can we work with the traveling public in a partnership to accomplish that?

CHETRY: John Pistole, TSA administrator, thanks for joining us this morning. I appreciate it.

PISTOLE: Thank you, Kiran.

ACOSTA: And coming up, the NFL has a superstar this year.

CHETRY: Sure, an unlikely superstar.

ACOSTA: Hasn't always been a superstar. I mean, he's a great football player. Don't get me wrong, but he's gone from zero to hero to put it mildly. That's Michael Vick leading his team to first place a little more than a year after doing time in prison for dog fighting. We will talk to a former NFL great for his take on Vick's remarkable turnaround.

CHETRY: Also, teen heartthrob Justin Bieber makes history last night at the American Music Awards. The boy band reunion, as well. Some of the highlights coming up.

Twenty-two minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. It's sweet being 16, especially if you're Justin Bieber.

ACOSTA: Not bad, right? The teen whose hair is just as popular as his music, he swept the American Music Awards last night. Our Alina Cho joins us now.

And, Alina, this was a big night for Justin Bieber. Not unexpected, I guess, right? Because he swept a lot of tickets --

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Apparently not. Apparently, he's a very hot guy.


CHO: Good morning. Good morning, everyone. You know, Justin Bieber did clean house at the American Music Awards last night. It really makes sense. It's a popularity contest after all. The winners are determined in part by fan votes. So it's no wonder that the teen idol who continues to rule the pop music scene walked away with some serious hardware.


CHO (voice-over): Teen sensation Justin Bieber wasn't kidding when he named his album "My World 2.0." The 16-year-old dominated the American Music Awards last night. JUSTIN BIEBER, MUSICIAN: I like to stay calm and collected, but inside I'm like --

CHO: Bieber picked up four awards, including "Breakthrough Artist" and "Artist of the Year."


CHO: The youngest person ever to win that award. And he shared the moment with the man who helped launch his career. Usher.

BIEBER: And it would be only right if I invited him up here to share it with me. Not only my mentor, but my best friend and my big brother, I love you, man.

CHO: Speaking of Usher -- he picked up two awards, including "Favorite Male R&BP Artist."

USHER, MUSICIAN: Can't call it a comeback, I've been doing it 18 years, you all.

CHO: Rihanna won for "Best Female R&B artist.

RIHANNA, MUSICIAN: Wow, this is amazing.

CHO: Taylor Swift who was last year's big winner with five awards was named "Best Country Artist." And The Black Eyed Peas were named "Favorite Pop or Rock Band."

WILL.I.AM, MUSICIAN: Years later, here we are selling 30 million records and traveling the world. Thank you.

CHO: The show ended with a blast from boy band past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, we're back again.

CHO: Chart-topping New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want it that way.

CHO: Teaming up to show they still have the right stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That makes you larger than life.


CHO: Of course, this is our favorite part of the evening. You still have it. You should have seen Kiran dancing before.

So, in case you all were wondering --


CHO: -- there was no Kanye West/Taylor Swift moment.

ACOSTA: That's good. CHO: You know, there always seems to be, but last night there was none of that. The closest thing was when rapper Nicki Minaj interrupted Rihanna during the acceptance of one of her awards and tried to do a plug for her upcoming album release. Rihanna very graciously complimented Nicki Minaj on her green hair because, of course, we all know you're nothing without green hair.

ACOSTA: Exactly.

CHETRY: All's well that ends well.

ACOSTA: Or that Lego hat that had on, that was pretty cool, too.

I'm going to get one.

CHO: OK, great.

ACOSTA: Thanks, Alina.

CHETRY: Alina, thanks.

Your top stories coming up straight ahead, including cash or charge. Salvation Army volunteers will be carrying more than their trademark silver bell and red bucket asking for donations this holiday season.

ACOSTA: I think I will look good in that hat.

Coming up, more than 42 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles for home at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year and --

CHETRY: Easy for you to say.

ACOSTA: Most of them won't be -- I think I've had too much turkey already. A look at the travel headaches ahead. It is 28 minutes after the hour.



CHETRY: Half past the hour right now. Thanks for being with us this morning. A look at our top stories. And we're kicking off perhaps the busiest travel week of the year. AAA estimating more than 42 million Americans will be traveling more than 50 miles from home this week. That's 11 percent more than last year.

So with so many people on the move this week, be sure to make CNN your holiday travel headquarters.

ACOSTA: If you're getting to your Thanksgiving destination by car, prices at the gas pump won't make you happy. Gas prices have reached a six-month high. The Lumberg survey puts the national average at $2.87 per gallon per regular, up almost $0.05 in the past two weeks.

CHETRY: Salvation Army taking donations to a new level this holiday season. Volunteers will be carrying mobile credit card readers with them. The Salvation Army calls them cashless kettles and insist that donation transactions will be secure. The organization also has an iPhone donation application.

ACOSTA: And in just a few hours, Mel Gibson will be face-to-face with his ex-girlfriend in a Los Angeles courtroom. They are fighting over custody of their one-year-old daughter. Gibson's pretty much been shunned in Hollywood after recordings of his obscene and racist rants turned up online.

CHETRY: Another big weekend in pro football, one that featured some violent hits including this one in the Philadelphia Eagles, Ellis Hobbs - I know, everyone held their breath as he was carried away. A stretcher after suffering a neck injury.

ACOSTA: This morning, we begin a special series, "Hard Hits, Dangerous Game." Looking at what many say is a concussion crisis in pro football. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now from Atlanta.

And Sanjay, you've had candid conversations with professional football players over the years and in the preparation of this story, and it just seems like more and more evidence is coming in that we do have a concussion crisis. What are they telling us?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question. We know a lot more now about the science, as well, than we did even just a few years ago. What they tell you is they acknowledge there's a paradox. I mean, people want to watch football because they want to see the big hits but they also cringe because of them.

What's unsettling is how much we know about these hits, more so than ever before, what exactly is happening in the brain when you watch something like that, Jim and Kiran. What's also unsettling is sort of this culture that's also pervasive that, you know, encourages players to sort of play and maybe minimizing the risk of concussions.

We talk quite a bit about that. I sat down and talked to the quarterback, former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner specifically about these issues trying to figure out what exactly he thinks is happening to the game as a whole, but also what happened to him personally. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warner steps up -

GUPTA (voice-over): It's a chilling moment in football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Warner is down.

GUPTA: A player is hit and does not get up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kurt Warner is on his back.

GUPTA: January 16th, 2010, former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner was that player.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the trainers race out -

GUPTA: He got up and later he returned to the game.

(on camera): Do you feel like now in retrospect you ever stayed in the game or was sort of pushed to stay in the game when you shouldn't have?

KURT WARNER, FMR. NFL QUARTERBACK: Yes, there's no question that's happened. A lot of guys when they get those hits or those concussions, they think, "OK, I'm going to play through it here for the short-term and it's going to get better."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just lifted up and deposited -

GUPTA (voice-over): Playing through it is part of football says Warner. A big part.

WARNER: Probably 100 percent of the guys that played my sport in the NFL have been there. And I think for a long time it was felt like, well, if you didn't get up dizzy or with no memory, then you really didn't suffer a concussion.

GUPTA (on camera): What does a concussion feel like?

WARNER: It's like a mental fogginess where you almost feel like you're separated from the situation. You're in it, but you're kind of looking at it from the outside looking in.

GUPTA (voice-over): According to the NFL, there are more than 100 documented concussions every season. After a big hit, doctors on the sidelines test players for signs of concussion, memory problems, confusion, dizziness. But there is no definitive answer to the most important question, who should continue playing and who should come out of the game?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of you have -- by show of hands - had a concussion?

GUPTA: Kevin (INAUDIBLE), formerly a Pittsburgh Steelers trainer studies concussions impact on the brain in high school players.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is showing moderate levels of atrophy.

GUPTA: And retired NFL athletes.

In his study, players with three or more concussions get MRIs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to say three words.

GUPTA: And memory tests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apple, penny, table.

Now you say those. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apple, penny, table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. What were those three words I asked you to remember earlier?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't remember. Penny - that's all I remember.


GUPTA: Memory problems are not the only thing they are finding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The brain has shrunk.

GUPTA: Concussions may be shrinking and learning centers in the brain, thwarting its ability to transmit signals.

(on camera): Did you retire because of concussions?

WARNER: No, not because of concussions. But there's no question, you know, as I contemplated the big picture. And, you know, thought about life after football. Do I want to put myself at risk for another concussion? Or for a worse concussion?

GUPTA (voice-over): Many players, of course, decide to play through it.


GUPTA: Kurt Warner knows a lot about this topic. He had five documented concussions himself. He said really there's a two-prong sort of thing going on here. First of all, a lot of players just want to play. So they'll minimize the subjective sort of complaints or symptoms of concussion and also again there's this culture of wanting to win. So you have both of those things going on.

He was very careful to say that very explicitly that no one ever told him he had to play despite his symptoms, but he worries about the culture. We did talk to the NFL specifically about this, as well. And they released a statement to us in preparation for the series. They said "If anything, we're going in the other direction where people sit out until they are totally symptom free. There are so many protocols now if a guy gets pulled out in a game, he cannot go back until he's cleared by the team doctor."

Incidentally that video, Kiran, Jim, that you were showing at the beginning, Ellis Hobbs from the game last night, the Eagles/Giants. That hit was pretty extraordinary. But he was taken off the field. He got x-rays, we found out just a while ago, which were all normal. You see him giving the thumbs up sign, moving his extremities. So he did well after that hit. But these are exactly the sort of hits that have more attention than ever before.

CHETRY: I mean, especially the 10 agonizing minutes that he was down. You know, people did not know. You never know what's going to happen. But you also mentioned in the piece that some other former NFL members are suffering damage to the memory and to learning areas in the brain after suffering multiple concussions. We've seen this as well, of course, with boxers and other people that take blows to the head. This is just inevitable in games like this?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, I do talk to some players and you're going to see some of those pieces on AMERICAN MORNING about just how profound their memory loss is. They're physically robust, they look terrific, but their memory centers are profoundly affected by this. I don't think it's inevitable. I think the best way to think about it is a first concussion is bad, but a second concussion can be much worse if the brain does not heal in between.

You really have to allow that time for the brain to heal. If the brain is still recovering, it can be really problematic and really make that second -- the second impact syndrome they call it so much worse. It's that gray area in between. The first concussion and potentially a second concussion that has a lot of doctors' attention.

CHETRY: Sanjay for us this morning. You know, a lot of people worrying about this right now. And it's getting a lot of attention.

Tomorrow, Sanjay's going to be looking at the case of 17-year-old Max Conradt. He's a high school quarterback whose life took a tragic turn following a series of violent hits and this is during a high school game.


CHETRY: All right. Sanjay, thanks so much. We'll see you tomorrow.

ACOSTA: All right.

And speaking of football, love them or hate them, you can't deny Michael Vick's comeback on the football field. Is Vick's season of redemption for real? We will talk with a former grid iron great. He is coming up in just a few minutes.

It's 38 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: 42 minutes past the hour.

ACOSTA: Yes. And you can add another chapter to the remarkable comeback story of Michael Vick. Did you see this last night, Kiran? Last night with first place on the line, Vick led the Philadelphia Eagles to a come from-behind victory over the New York Giants. I don't know why I'm so excited, I'm a Redskins fan.

CHETRY: I know. Why are you so excited? I used to be a Redskins fan, but I married into a Philadelphia Eagles household so I had no choice but to cheer (INAUDIBLE).

ACOSTA: You guys are happy.

CHETRY: But Vick's play this season has fans, players and of course, the media buzzing about him. ACOSTA: They are.

CHETRY: Will he be again the NFL's MVP?

ACOSTA: Or go to the Super Bowl. I mean, that is a possibility with this team.

CHETRY: And because of that - not only for the Eagles, but for Michael Vick himself, it's totally a stunning turnaround. This is a man who did time for staging these dog fights and then, of course, he had trouble finding a team who would even take him.

ACOSTA: That's right. And let's talk about that now. Joining us from Atlanta, Jamal Anderson. Of course, we know who he is, football analyst and former all-pro running back with the Atlanta Falcons. Jamal, good to see you this morning.

JAMAL ANDERSON, FOOTBALL ANALYST: Great to see you guys this morning. How are you doing?

ACOSTA: We're doing great. Not as great as Michael Vick. I mean, what an unbelievable season.


ACOSTA: I mean what do you make of this? I mean, this is a guy who a lot of teams didn't want anymore. We were talking about the Redskins. It was Donovan McNabb, the former Eagles quarterback who was instrumental in bringing Vick to the NFL and Vick takes his job in Philadelphia (INAUDIBLE) we don't need to get into but I mean, this is an incredible turnaround for a guy who really, you know, if things had gone a different way might not even be there this season.

ANDERSON: Yes, there's no question about it, this is one of the remarkable story this year in the NFL. Clearly, you know, Michael Vick was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles last year, assisted, frankly, by Donovan McNabb. He comes to the Eagles, he gets there, and people are wondering, does he still have it? Can he still move the way he did before? Will his talent ever come back particularly with a two-year layoff?

And what has he done this year? In addition to coming in and taking over as a starting job? Because remember before this season started, Kevin Cobb was the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

ACOSTA: That's right.

ANDERSON: So people didn't even expect Michael Vick to really contribute in the manner he has thus far. And it has been amazing. You know, he missed three games this year, but he's played fantastic.

CHETRY: Yes and Jamal, interestingly enough, that sort of gave the Eagles cover when this first happened. Look, he's a backup guy, we don't know how much he's going to play. Because there was a lot of outrage. I mean, hell from Philadelphia, a lot of my family members said "we're not even going to watch anymore because of this." And now all of a sudden he's in the top spot, they're winning, and it seems this past with the dog fighting and how angry people were is largely forgotten. Does that surprise you?

ANDERSON: You know, it doesn't surprise me. Obviously I've heard this so many times when you talk about different stars and different people who have the ability to come back and prove that they have the talent to do what they did before. You know, Britney Spears, Mike Tyson, different people who have gone through certain things or had tremendous controversies and get an opportunity again to prove themself (sic).

You're looking at Michael Vick here, who last year, even when he was on the football field at times for the Philadelphia Eagles, wasn't necessarily spectacular. He gets his body in shape, he commits himself fully to football. Admittedly Michael says that he didn't give his entire effort with the sixth seasons he was with the Falcons. But he also had a number of different offensive coordinators and constant coaching changes.

In the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive system, he's got the same set of coaches for a couple of years, guys who have been together for several years on the staff prior to Michael Vick. That continuity, his efforts on the football field, and what he's doing and understanding the game. And then his speed and everything came back from working out. So, he's been absolutely fantastic.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Jamal, one of the stories I think is incredible. Last night on "Football Night on America," Tony Dungy, the former Colts' head coach was talking about how he went to Leavenworth Prison, spent time with Michael Vick in prison. And Vick talked about those dark days where the door would slam shut and he would realize, boy, I'm going to be here for a while.

And I'm just curious, it seems like people inside the NFL have given Michael Vick a second chance. But what about the rest of the general public? I mean, the football fans out there, maybe even their families who aren't into football quite as much.

Are we giving Michael Vick -- are we cutting him too much slack because he's a superstar, because he wins football games?

ANDERSON: Well, I think the reality is Michael served his time. In fact, he went in early to serve his time. He got out early, he did all the programs set forth. He has done everything that the Commissioner's asked him to do. What more can you ask of him?

I'm not telling -- I'm not advocating for people to like Michael Vick or root for Michael Vick. He admits what he did was atrocious. Obviously it was very, very painful what he went through before. But he's done absolutely everything that has been asked of him, to not only earn a second chance but make the most of his second chance.

He's saying the right things. I mean, I'm watching him. I was a teammate, what can you say? What more can you ask of him to do in addition to him coming on the football field and do the things that he's done for the Philadelphia Eagles. He has done everything he said he was going to do, he's done everything per the Commissioner's request, and he served his time and, in fact, early, again. So, you know, second chance, I think he's certainly earned it.

CHETRY: Big question now, what happens? They've got him for a bargain, you know, about $100,000 a game in 2009. Is he getting a huge contract staying in Philly?

What do you any?

ANDERSON: I think it would be -- obviously the fans of Philadelphia -- it's something that everybody is talking about right now. You've got to remember. Kevin Cobb did come in and play well. And the Philadelphia Eagles, I don't know. I'm not saying it's a slam dunk that Michael Vick would be there. I think it would certainly be intelligent for the Eagles to try to sign and --

ACOSTA: If he takes them to the Super Bowl, he's probably going to be there next season.

ANDERSON: It's easy to say. But Donovan McNabb did it several times and obviously he just got a big contract with the Washington --

ACOSTA: Eagles fans aren't patient.


CHETRY: Plus, you have to win a Super Bowl, you can't just get there.

ANDERSON: You can't go four or five times and we still love you. You better win it.

CHETRY: All right. Jamal Anderson, thank you.

ACOSTA: Good to see you, Jamal.

ANDERSON: Thank you, guys, pleasure.

ACOSTA: Forty-eight minutes after the hour. We'll be right back.



CHETRY: Well, the busy travel season is underway. The crowds, the anger level in some cases growing at the airports. Will these new enhanced patdowns remain or will there be some changes? We'll take a look. Fifty-two minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Four minutes now till the top of the hour. $13,000 in credit card debt. It sounds like a lot of money, right? But it's not that uncommon. It is possible, though, to dig yourself out of that kind of debt in just three to five years.

Credit counselor David Flores showed our Christine Romans how to do it.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're on the ropes, right? You've got rent or mortgage. You've got a car loan. You've got groceries. You've got a student loan. And you can't afford -- and just lost your job.

How do you prioritize the basics even? Student loan you get a deferment.

DAVID FLORES, CREDIT COUNSELOR: I was going to say, you want to take a look at this and say, OK, well where is there a assistance? student loan companies typically help with hardships.

ROMANS: They usually lower interest rates, too, right?

FLORES: They do. They usually do. But yes, so putting these into deferment or forbearance can help so you're eliminating this, even temporarily.

ROMANS: You got to get tough on the groceries and tighten up.

FLORES: You got to get tough on the groceries. On the rent or mortgage, long-term is your situation going to -- do you see it changing?

ROMANS: You might need to downsize.

FLORES: Yes. And this is the hardest. A lot of times when it comes to rent, downsizing an apartment, people don't want to do that. But sometimes it needs to be done if their situation is a long-term situation, not a short-term.

ROMANS: I think bottom line, $13,000 credit card bills, credit card debt, at 29 percent interest. If you paid only the minimum it would take 35 years to pay it off. Most don't know that.

FLORES: They don't. They don't.

ROMANS: That is a long time. That's a lifetime.

FLORES: Right. And so that's why, if you can afford to make the minimum payment where you can pay off your debt sooner great. But if you can't afford to pay the minimum payment, you can't -- that interest rate, 30 percent, that's a lot.

Seeking credit counseling will help to try and get those payments, manageable, get that interest rate down to maybe a 10 percent, a 6 percent interest rate, something manageable so you can pay off that debt without shelling out, you know, a ton of extra money.

ROMANS: David Flores says one of the toughest parts of digging out of debt is getting started, realizing what that number, the balance is. He says once you come to terms with it, start paying down your debt in manageable chunks, little by little. After all, little by little is how most people get in themselves in debt to begin with.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.