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Don Lemon Tonight

The Trial of Aaron Hernandez; Patriots and Seahawks Set for Super Bowl; NFL to Address Domestic Violence in Powerful PSA

Aired January 28, 2015 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that was a very powerful and moving hour by CNN's Wolf Blitzer that you just watched there.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Tonight on this broadcast, terror threats at home and around the world. More than 50 threats against airlines in the past week and a half. Fears that the Super Bowl could be a target.

And a desperate attempt to save a journalist and the pilot held hostage by ISIS with time running out.

Plus the bombshell murder trial of ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, it starts tomorrow.

In the wake of the outrage over everything from the NFL's record of domestic violence to the circus surrounding deflate-gate, with the Super Bowl just around the corner, can the league solve its image problem?

And adding insult to injury, more snow on the way after the blizzard of 2015. We've got the very latest on when and where.

We have a whole lot to get to tonight so make sure you stick with us here. But I want to begin with the spike in online threats against airlines and who or what is behind it.

CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh live for us at New York's LaGuardia Airport tonight.

So, Rene, there have been 50 online bomb threats in the last two weeks, why so many and what are officials doing to find the people responsible?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, as we speak, the FBI, they are working on tracing computer IP addresses to track down the culprits responsible for all of this.

As far as what's behind the uptick, I spoke with several officials today, one U.S. official telling me that they believe these are copycat incidents, sparked by the publicity surrounding these events. They believe that is what's fueling it.

But it's important to note, this is a federal crime. Even if the intent was not to actually bring down a jetliner, if someone thought this was a funny prank, it really isn't. Federal authorities are taking it very seriously. And punishment could be up to 10 years behind bar. Oftentimes there is a plea deal so you could also face hefty fines. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.


MARSH: So needless to say, they are talking it seriously, not only the FBI, but we also heard the same from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson today -- Don.

LEMON: And, Rene, you said copycats. Do they really believe that ISIS is actually behind this? Is it coming from ISIS member?

MARSH: You know, I spoke with a couple of people today, and, you know, one official said to me, and again, couching it as off the record, but he said to me, ISIS most likely would not tweet that we're going to blow up a plane, they would simply do it. That being said, we are in a time in which there is this threat from ISIS and AQAP, so no one wants to take that chance, no one wants to be wrong that one time.

So what you're seeing is fighter jets scrambled in one situation, law enforcement, bomb-sniffing dogs, all called to the scene because they don't want to take that chance -- Don.

LEMON: Yes. And a heightened level of awareness now.

Thank you very much, Rene Marsh, at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

I want to bring in now aviation security expert, Jeff Price. He is the author of "Practical Aviation Security." Also Sarah Chovnick, she was on board a flight that was diverted by a bomb threat on Sunday, and she joins us via Skype.

Good evening to both of you.

Sarah, first, you were on a plane from Los Angeles to Orlando when pilot diverted to Dallas because of a bomb threat allegedly by ISIS.

How did you first learn about it?

SARAH CHOVNICK, PASSENGER: Well, you know, the pilot came on about, like, two hours into our flight. And he said we need to make an emergency landing in Dallas. There has been a security threat. There's been -- we've been informed that we have a threat to this plane so we had to make an emergency landing.

I immediately went to Twitter and typed in our flight number and found the tweets from the alleged ISIS member that said that there was a bomb on flight -- Delta Flight 1061, so I knew almost immediately that -- what the threat was and, you know, what Delta was looking at as far as our flight.

LEMON: And here's what -- the tweet that you saw. "Because we planted explosives on board Flight 1061 heading to Orland. Our soldiers waiting for signal."

What were you thinking when you saw that and did you share that with passengers?

CHOVNICK: I did. You know, the guy that was sitting next to me, we both looked at it and has kind of the same reaction which was, oh, this is our flight that he's talking about, not just a general threat to Delta, not a threat to aviation, but our specific flight, which was alarming to see not only the flight number, but our path and everything, that it was so specific to know.

And I think most of the people on the flight actually knew about the tweet and had read the tweet before we had even landed.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, were people remaining calm? What did the pilots say? Did they say anything to you?

CHOVNICK: The pilot did say that we had received a threat via social media. He told us that before we landed. He told us that it was not a mechanical, not a technical issue, that it was a threat that we had received. That's why we needed to land the plane, that it was a security issue, and everyone kind of remained pretty calm which was -- which was surprising in that situation.


CHOVNICK: I think everyone was internally very anxious, but on the outside remained pretty calm until we touched down.

LEMON: All right. Sarah, stand by. I want to get to Jeff now.

Jeff, 50 threats in the past two weeks. How can the airlines decide which ones to take seriously with so many planes and so many passengers in the air?

JEFF PRICE, AVIATION SECURITY EXPERT: It's really difficult to decide. You take everything seriously so we'll just start with that. But what is difficult to decide is, is this a real threat and to what level do we need to respond?

Now there's internal procedures that the airlines and the TSA will take to vet each threat, to try and determine, is this a real deal or is this not? And as you mentioned earlier, nobody wants to be wrong. So oftentimes, you are going to over respond rather than under respond.

LEMON: You know, here is a tweet that was sent just yesterday. And it says, "I have a massive semi nuclear explosive on board Flight 4200 from San Diego to Dallas. If this fails, I will shoot the plane down."

If the threats are made via social media, can't the law enforcement officials -- can they trace them back by using an IP address or other electronic means?

PRICE: That's the game that we're playing right now. There's -- some people are aware there's a whole part of the Internet that is very difficult to track people, and there is a certain browsers that are used to enter those parts of the Internet, and that's part of the cyber kind of detective game that we're playing now. For every ability to hide on the Internet, there is a counter ability to find the person on the Internet.

So it's really law enforcement at a whole another level with the security measures, with the cyber security in trying to track people who don't want to be found. So it's going to take more advances in technology and in law enforcement, and every time we come up with something to find them, they'll come up with someplace else to hide.

LEMON: Yes. Jeff Price and Sarah Chovnick, thank you both very much.

You know, with terror threats around the world, there are few bigger potential targets than the Super Bowl. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says there's no specific, credible threat, but what will it take to keep everybody safe?

Let's talk about that now with Rachel Nichols, CNN and Turner Sports anchor.

Hi, Rachel. Blackhawk helicopters, truck-sized X-rays, thousands of security and law enforcement officials. Take us through the extreme security measures that will be in place for everyone entering the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN AND TURNER SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Don. This is going to be a huge coordination of agencies. Those Blackhawk helicopters that you mentioned, those are from the U.S. Border Patrol. They're also borrowing some of the TSA folks, and their screening equipment to work the doors. There's going to be 3,000 Phoenix Police. There's going to be 4,000 private security personnel here.

There's going to be regular bomb sniffing dogs. There's going to be nuclear bomb sniffing dogs. And by the way, the federal air marshals are loaning some of their personnel that are called behavioral specialists. So people are walking around the area acting strange, they're supposed to be able to recognize them.

LEMON: Yes. Nonetheless, you can see they're getting ready for the activities there. And there's a little bit of celebration going on behind Rachel.

So, Rachel, listen, today, the Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, he said local law enforcement officials said this, he said this about the security for the Super Bowl, let's listen.


JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think the key is vigilance, and we've devoted a lot of resources and a lot of effort to making sure this event is safe and secure.

JOSEPH YAHNER, ACTING PHOENIX POLICE CHIEF: We have 24 expert work groups that have thought of everything from cyber crimes to intelligence analysis and everything else. So we are prepared.


LEMON: Rachel, about 72,000 fans is going to fill that stadium. 110 million people expected to watch on TV. And it's important to point out, though, there have been no significant threats detected. Correct?

NICHOLS: Yes. There's no credible threat is the way they phrase it. But look, any time you gather people for Super Bowl, the most high- profile event we have in our country, it's a huge risk. They call it a level one target. And you can tell by the number of things that they are bringing into the area. Everything we mentioned before, oh, by the way, there's also bionet detectors.

I mean, we're talking about such a range from nuclear to on-the- ground, and by the way, you can bring a lot of things into the stadium, but no backpacks, no purses or and no drones. I don't know if that's a pushback from what happened at the White House the other day -- Don.


LEMON: There's a lot to deal with here.

Rachel, we appreciate you joining us. Standby.

Joining me now is former CIA operative Bob Baer and former Homeland Security assistant secretary, Juliette Kayyem.

Good evening to both of you.

Juliette, I hate to say it, but the Super Bowl is a pretty big target. How do security officials prevent a lone wolf attack there?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Well, look, it's not -- it's not perfect, but so much security preparation has been done before the Super Bowl. It's a known date and it's a known place, so there are two variables that are great for security planning. It has been designated a national special security event called an NSSE which sort of allows the deployment of all these federal resources that we just heard in the segment before.

It requires a coordination of local, state, and federal law enforcement and first responders which has been ongoing, you know, essentially probably for the last six to nine months. So as far as planning goes, this is -- this is where public safety really does know how to function well, because they have a place and a date.

It also means, however, a lot of people are watching, a lot of spectators and there is a lot of people, you know, disturbing people out there, so you're just constantly balancing the two needs between, you know, sort of throwing a big party, throwing a big sporting event, and also ensuring the safety and security of everyone there.

LEMON: And social media is -- KAYYEM: And it's a constant balance.

LEMON: And social media has really added a whole another level on top of this.

How do they determine if a tweeted threat to the Super Bowl is a real thing, Juliette?

KAYYEM: So there -- there is a number of resources right now that are monitoring Twitter and Twitter feeds to determine who is a jokester or should we be more concerned about someone. People are -- law enforcement is then deployed to assess who the person might be, if it seems like a credible threat.

The London Olympics ended up being a great test study in this regard. The London Olympics had something like 20,000 to 24,000 disruption of service attacks during that two-week period. We learned a lot from them about how they were able to protect themselves, and also figure out who was doing what.

And this is just the nature of these big events, and that's why you see Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, really leaning forward in terms of saying, we have -- we got this, given the number of people, I guess, over a billion, that are going to be watching on Sunday night.

LEMON: Bob, I want to talk about this message reportedly from ISIS. It is just -- it has just been released. CNN -- need to say this -- can't confirm its authenticity. But it gives a new deadline. It's 9:30 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning for killing a Jordanian pilot as well as a second Japanese hostage if Jordan doesn't release a female terrorist that they're holding.

And Jordanian officials has said they'll swap her for the pilot and the Japanese journalist if ISIS proves that they are still alive.

Is a hostage swap a good idea, Bob?

ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think in terms of Jordan, yes, Don. King Abdullah runs the kingdom of Jordan, thanks to tribal support. This pilot was from a major tribe. The tribal groups in Jordan are reluctant about this war in Syria and Iraq, supporting the United States, and if he needs their support to swap that hostage -- that prisoner for the pilot hostage, he should do it. And we shouldn't say anything about it.

These are internal politics, we shouldn't get involved in, nor we shouldn't be dealing with terrorists, but the Islamic State is something in between terrorism and a state, and I think exceptions can be made. This is one of the --

LEMON: But, Bob, you know -- you know, and people are saying, the other side says, hey, listen, this is a -- this sets a bad precedent.

BAER: Well, you know, it does. The problem is the Islamic State owns territory, and as I said, it's a criminal state, a terror state, if you like. It's a little bit like North Korea. Dealing with North Korea, a rogue state, isn't such a good idea either. The Islamic State is worse, but, you know, we do have to hold this coalition together, and if King Abdullah says we need to swap that prisoner to get our pilot back, we got to do it.

We should not hold to these principles with absolute solidity, you know, 100 percent. There are exceptions.

LEMON: Bob Baer, Juliette Kayyem, thank you.

Super Bowl security is not the only headache for the NFL. And ex- Patriot Aaron Hernandez, his murder trial starts tomorrow and the league is still facing outrage over everything from its handling of domestic violence to the deflate-gate scandal.

We're going to get to that tonight. But this as well. Speaking of New England, more wicked weather heading your way. We've got the forecast coming up.

Plus the family who lost half their house in the blizzard. Their dramatic story next.


LEMON: Just when you thought it was safe to go outside, more snow on the way in the areas still digging out from the blizzard of 2015.

Let's talk about it more now. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is with us.

The storm is epic, Jennifer. And so is the cleanup. The numbers are in. A lot of records were broken. Tell us what you're seeing.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, a lot of records were broken with this one, Don. And Boston set the all-time snowiest January on record, came about three inches shy of the all-time record.

But just look behind me and you can see this mess. This is all over the city. And where they've been plowing, there are snow mounds taller than me. In fact, they canceled school tomorrow because a lot of those secondary roads are not plowed yet. A lot of people's cars still under snow, and also the sidewalks aren't clear.

But one of the other thing is the buses can't see the kids around those snow piles, and so they felt like it was best to cancel school for today. Of course temperatures are going to stay very, very cold here, as they continue to dig out. And also expected another storm system on the way in the next couple of days.

LEMON: I know. Jennifer, how bad is this one supposed to be?

GRAY: Well, it's not going to be anywhere like as bad as the one we just saw. This one dumped, what, 24 inches in Boston, and 35 inches in places around Boston. The next one is expected to bring about one to two inches possible, Friday night into Saturday morning. However, some of the models as we've been talking about disagree, and some of them have been saying that we could get as much as four to five inches.

But that's a big difference because when you're talking about one to two inches, it's just a dusting, the city does virtually nothing. It fixes itself. If you get four to five inches, it's a plowable snow. And you so have to bring out the plows, and then it's a lot more of a process to get this cleaned up. So we're hoping it'll be towards the lower end, but we're not quite sure yet. By tomorrow, a lot more will be able to tell, a lot more to (INAUDIBLE).

But it could be as much as four to five inches here in Boston by the early start of the weekend.

LEMON: No one hoping more that it's going to be less than what's forecasted than the people of New England.

Jennifer Gray, thank you very much.

GRAY: Yes.

LEMON: And this family as well, coming up. It's Chris Carol and her children, McKenna, Kathleen, and Quinn. Their home in Scituate, Massachusetts, severely damaged in the blizzard. They join me right now via Skype.

How are you, guys, doing, Chris?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very good. We are warm in a hotel room.

LEMON: You're in a hotel room right now. Yes, because we saw the video, we've been seeing it. The whole back of your home was really demolished. And so surveying the damage, I don't know if you've had anyone to officially do it, do you think the whole thing is -- is it a complete loss?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not quite sure, but I know the inspector that did come in today had said that he was somewhat concerned about the back half perhaps collapsing because of the weight of the ice.

LEMON: Yes. So what were you thinking when you sit -- it must have been just unbelievable to watch the ocean enter your living room wall, where your wall used to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were always -- we were close enough to the water, but literally having it right there, I mean, open exposed, very, very alarming.

LEMON: Yes. Were you able to salvage anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have lots of garbage bags of clothes right now, but pretty much lost all of our electronics, and rugs, you know, nothing too severe, but like I said, going into the house was -- it was very, very surreal. That's my word of the day.

LEMON: Yes. So let's see all of you guys. Who do we have there with you? You've got McKenna and Kathleen.


LEMON: How are you guys doing?







LEMON: How so?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially around the house. It's that we were in the house -- it was like really dangerous and --




LEMON: Yes. So I heard, Chris say, you lost some rugs and things, did you lose anything of sentimental value to you or is it just things and you go out -- and you guys are glad that you're all together and alive?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The majority of it is things, and the little sentimental things that mean the most to me I grabbed before we went to the hotel, my son's drawings or little things like that, so all the DVDs, all the electronics, and the --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is just stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It's stuff. And I'm grateful to have my kids.

LEMON: We wish you guys the best. And we're thinking about you. Thank you, Chris. Thanks, McKenna. Thanks, Kathleen.



LEMON: We'll check back in with them, so make sure you stay tuned to CNN. We'll see how they're progressing there.

When we come back, with the Super Bowl just days away, one former Patriot is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Aaron Hernandez's murder trial is set to begin tomorrow. We're going to have the very latest on what's going to happen with that. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As the Patriots prepare to take the field against the Seahawks on Sunday, the murder trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is finally set to begin. Opening statements are scheduled for tomorrow in Fall River, Massachusetts.

And CNN's Susan Candiotti covering this case for us, and she joins me now.

Hi, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. It's probably very safe to say that at this very hour Patriots owner Bob Kraft and Coach Bill Belichick are probably working on those X's and O's for a winning strategy for the Super Bowl, but as soon as that is over, they may very likely be preparing for another very important event, because both men are on the state's witness list in that Aaron Hernandez trial.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The last time the New England Patriots played in the Super Bowl in 2012, Aaron Hernandez was on the field. This time, he's sidelined. On trial for murder, pleading not guilty.

If his former bosses, team owner Bob Kraft and coach Bill Belichick take the stand, they are expected to testify about their conversations with their superstar. The timing is critical, just days after the bullet riddled body of semi-pro player Odin Lloyd is found, Hernandez returns to the Patriots' Gillette Stadium. The media watching.

A law enforcement sources says Kraft and Belichick talk face to face with Hernandez. Kraft alleging Hernandez flat-out denies he had anything to do with Lloyd's murder. And, the source adds, Hernandez also tells the coach the same thing. He wasn't there.

Former teammate, Patriots wide receiver Matt Slater, trying to make sense of it.

MATTHEW SLATER, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WIDE RECEIVER: As well as the families involved in the situation, and you know, a lot of people were definitely affected by that situation, so they are all in my prayers.

CANDIOTTI: At first, it seems there's a mountain of circumstantial evidence against the star tight end who has pleaded not guilty. Eighteen months later, the case isn't the same.

MICHAEL MCCANN, LEGAL ANALYST, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: The universe of damning evidence has shrunk.

CANDIOTTI: Shrunk, thanks to a defense team scoring some victories. Arguably the biggest. A text message from Lloyd to his sister about who he was with sent minutes before he was killed. Lloyd writes, "NFL, just so you know." A judge ruling it's inadmissible, not enough proof Lloyd thought he was going to die. MCCANN: If the jury believes that Aaron Hernandez was with Odin Lloyd

right before Odin Lloyd was killed, it's not a big leap to conclude Aaron Hernandez was involved in the murder of Odin Lloyd.

CANDIOTTI: Yet prosecutors say they have surveillance videos of the victim getting into a car with Hernandez. And co-defendants Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz who also pleaded not guilty to murder. Video of that same car driving into an industrial park and later Hernandez back home less than a mile away holding what prosecutors say is the alleged murder weapon, but it was never found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no murder weapon or a witness that is credible would testify that Aaron Hernandez did it. There is no such witness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The judge blocking any mention that Hernandez is indicted for two more murders in Boston. The prosecution witness Alexander Bradley can't say that he is suing Hernandez for allegedly shooting him in the face a few months before Lloyd's murder. Will the state overcome any weaknesses?

MCCANN: So there still is a good amount of circumstantial evidence against Aaron Hernandez, but it is not the slam dunk case that it seemed to be.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And opening statements are beginning tomorrow morning in a trial that could last more than two months. Don.

LEMON: This is going to be fascinating. Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.

I want to go back to Rachel Nichols, and also joining me is Michael McCann. He is a sports law professor from the University of New Hampshire School of Law who you saw in Susan's report right there. So, Rachel, a lot of what we thought we knew that turns out there was no murder weapon. Everybody thought it was a slam dunk, and the start of this trial coinciding with the Super Bowl, and let's not forget Coach Bill Belichick, Patriot's owner Robert Kraft, both listed as potential witnesses. How is the sports world reacting to all of this?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, there are a number of Patriots' employees who are potential witnesses here. And look, there is definitely interest in the sports world. This guy was an NFL player, but it is at a distance. It has been a while since he was on the football field. Remember, the Patriots severed ties with him immediately, right after he was arrested. Owner Robert Kraft made a big deal about the fact he thought that the organization had been "duped." He said that he knew Aaron Hernandez was involved in "immature activities," but it is a long way from murder or any of the associations that the prosecutor has alleged. So certainly, his Patriots teammates feel that this is someone who is not related to them anymore, either in a (inaudible) capacity or even in a friendship capacity. You ask players and they just said they just have not had any contact with him.

LEMON: Interesting. Michael, should we read anything to the fact that 13 women and 5 men are this in the jury pool, 6 of them will end up as alternates. It is a lot of women, more than men, which should we read if anything into this?

MICHAEL MCCANN, SPORTS LAW PROFESSOR: I am not sure anything, Don. We cannot read anything into it. I think to me what is more crucial than their gender is how they answered jury questionnaire questions, are they pro-police or are they more skeptical of the police? Those to me are going to be more relevant factors. I don't think that the gender itself is going to be all that explanatory, although clearly those who are consulting to Hernandez team is aware of the jury come position, and to the extent that they believe that the gender will matter, they may to some extent conditioned what they say in court to address that, but to me, Don, what is more important is what is theirs ideology, what do they think about people who are charged with crimes, and what do they think of the police and do they have suspicions. That to me is going to be more meaningful.

LEMON: But, Susan, it also meaningful, too, that this is Patriots' country here that we're talking about, were there concerns about an impartial jury?

CANDIOTTI: Yes, there were a lot of concerns about that. And as Michael also pointed out, remember, we won't know how they answered those juror questionnaires because they were interviewed to be on the jury in secret at sidebar and so we didn't get to hear what they said about all those questions that Michael brought up. And the judge has gone out of her way to get as many jurors in the pool as possible. She had a thousand people this there and that is 10 times more than normal, and she has barred the wearing of any kind of Patriots' gear or any other sports team gear for that matter in the courtroom, no colors, no t-shirts, no sweatshirts, nothing to try to keep the atmosphere neutral, Don.

LEMON: That is tough to do. As I said, this is Patriots' country. And Michael, one more thing, one thing that we know that you are thinking about whether drugs played a role in this murder. You say that could be a key issue for the defense, and how so?

MCCANN: Well, it could, Don. It could in the sense that if Hernandez' lawyers argue look, he was high on the drugs the night that Odin Lloyd was killed. He lacked the legal capacity to plan a murder that could help that he should not be convicted of first-degree murder. It would not be a complete defense, but similarly to arguing that, maybe he is suffering brain concussions in football, a defense along those lines. It is a way of trying to lower the potential for being convicted of the worst potential offense, first degree murder, and getting something less than that, and going a back to Belichick and Kraft, they could testify in that respect as well. It is very possible that the prosecution would want to talk about, if he was injured.

LEMON: OK. Thank you, Michael. Thank you very much, Rachel Nichols for doing double duty. Of course, thank you, Susan Candiotti as well. And we are just four days away from the Super Bowl, and the Patriots

and the Seahawks are in the Phoenix, as our most of the nation's sports reporters, so why does it seem that nobody talking about the game?


LEMON: There is a lot going on in Phoenix this week as we head into the Super Bowl. In fact, there is so much going on that you may not have not noticed that the Patriots and the Seahawks are actually preparing to play football.

CNN's Rachel Nichols looks at the distractions.


NICHOLS: The Super Bowl is the biggest football game of the year, but so far, there has not been a lot of talk about football. For more than a week, the sports world has been consumed about the NFL's investigation into whether the Patriots cheated when they used deflated footballs in the AFC championship game. Today, New England's players try to move on from that discussion.

TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: I talked about that last week, and you know, I'm not going to be talking about any reports or anything like that this week. I am focused on the game.

NICHOLS: But now, it is a member of the Seattle Seahawks who has fallen under the microscope of the league's office. Star runningback Marshawn Lynch, one of the NFL's best players has been thumbing the nose at the NFL's requirements that players hear talk to the media. Here was Lynch on Tuesday.

MARSHAWN LYNCH, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS RUNNINGBACK: I am here, so I won't get fined. I am here, so I won't get fined. I am here, so I won't get fined. I am just here, so I won't get fined.

NICHOLS: He gave the same answer 29 times.

LYNCH: Just so I won't get fined, boss.

NICHOLS: And he is wearing a hat that is also outside of league regulation, one that promotes his personal beast mode brand. When the Chicago Bears' Brian Urlacher did something similar in 2007, the NFL fined him $100,000. And today, ESPN reported that the NFL is considering a similar "significant fine" for Lynch. So what did the runningback do just a few hours later? He wore another hat with the same logo, and again stonewalled the media.

LYNCH: You know why I'm here. You know why I'm here. They know why I'm here. You all know why I'm here. You know why I'm here.

NICHOLS: The Seahawks are fully backing Lynch in what is a mushrooming battle with the NFL.

PETE CARROLL, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: I understand that people would like to see him do different things in another way, he is not comfortable with that, so that is what he is telling you.

NICHOLS: Talk radio and internet message boards have been filled with fans criticizing the NFL for being concerned about the logo on the hat or the pressure of the football when last year it was so slow to respond to domestic violence issues, but that last point does seem to be changing. On Sunday, the NFL will devote some of the very expensive Super Bowl ad space to a new public service announcement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Half-pepperoni and half-mushroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know you called 911. This is an emergency line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how long it would be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, ma'am. Is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency or not?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are unable to talk because...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone in the room with you? Just say yes or no.


NICHOLS: The tag line of the PSA is called "when it is hard to talk, it is up to us to listen."


NICHOLS: And Don, even with that, PSA on domestic violence, that is OK, but PSA on domestic violence, there is a lot of pressure on the Commissioner Roger Goodell. In fact, there is a lot of questions about his priorities, and Richard Sherman just this morning was noting that Marshawn Lynch if he had not gone to talk at media day then he would have been fined a $500,000, and Sherman asked, how come the players have to talk every week the if Roger Goodell is not required to talk every week. He questioned the double standards, and Goodell is going to get a lot more of questions at his annual press conference State of the Super Bowl on Friday.

LEMON: Oh, yeah. OK, so now everyone sees Rachel Nichols is back, and she is doing triple duty tonight. Michael McCann, back with me as well. And I am also joined by Peter Najarian. He is a former NFL linebacker, who is a contributor to CNBC's Fast Money and also, Chris Valletta, former NFL player and author of Team Works. Thank you very much for this signed copy, Mr. Valletta. (Inaudible).

Rachel, any new developments that would deflate-gate that you can tell us about?

NICHOLS: Well, in an interesting layer to this added -- from all the way across the country, because why not, Don, right? There was a story that came out that Phil Jackson of course who is in charge of the New York Knicks now, but played for the Knicks back on a team with Senator Bill Bradley in the 1970s that he was going around deflating basketballs back then, that he was telling reporters hey, we don't like the PSI here, we have kind of a shorter team, and so we want to be able to deflate the basketballs, and getting a little less height and bounce. Phil came out on Twitter today and he said yes, they were deflating basketballs, but only the low end of the legal limit, and apparently, nobody is safe, Don.

LEMON: No one is safe.

NICHOLS: No one is safe.

LEMON: You can't make this stuff up. Pete, is this exactly what the NFL is? This is a delay of game, right? Because the people are talking about other things, right?


LEMON: Because of the investigation with Aaron Hernandez and with what is going on, this is sort of exactly what the NFL wants?

NAJARIAN: A little bit of the distraction, right? And suddenly, people start in getting this who mode of hey, did they really do it, have they been cheating for a long period of time, and what is up with the Patriots, we all know about the Spygate, and now, they got this, deflate-gate, everybody wants to call it, but it does draw attention and if you look at social media, this is going to be a home run Super Bowl. I think last year, record numbers, and this year, bigger.

LEMON: Why is that?

NAJARIAN: Because it is going to be drawing in that many more people, and think of the people who are not following football who suddenly are becoming followers of the New England Patriots and the bad guys and they are cheating, and they want to watch the cheaters going down.

LEMON: Do you agree with that?

CHRIS VALLETTA, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, the viewership is certainly up. I mean, the game is more popular today than it ever has been before, but what is interesting is that this gap of the viewership. The viewership is focused on the football is a fantasy thing now, whereas the reality of the game is centered on the topics of murder, domestic violence, child abuse, and the likes. So the NFL has to close that gap, and not broaden it, but I think the domestic violence campaign that they are going to be putting on at the Super Bowl is a great first step.

LEMON: We will get to that and play the entire PSA, and then get your reaction to it. Chris, I want to ask you this because I know that you are not a Richard Sherman fan, but here is what he wrote in Sports Illustrated about Marshawn Lynch before yesterday's media day yesterday. He said this, he says under Goodell, the league continues to put players like Marshawn Lynch in a position to be mocked by the media, which is a can kick of seeing people struggle on camera, as teammates were angry, because we know that certain people do well, and we know that they struggle with Marshawn's talking to the press, and that is the equivalent of putting a reporter on the football field and telling him to tackle Adrian Peterson. You say it is a prima Donna attitude in the NFL, and do you believe that Sherman has the point here?

VALLETTA: Well, he is exceptionally talented player, and his talent is eclipsed by his exceptionally well-developed tongue in front of the media. There is no doubt about it. He is a media guy, but here is the deal, it sounds like he wants to become commissioner of the NFL, which is fine if that is ride he wants to take. He is about to play in the biggest game of his life and he is focused on topics that are out of his control, and frankly, ludicrous. Every single NFL player signs a contract. They have to appear in front of the media, flat out. If you are uncomfortable in front of the media, well, then the NFL should put systems and processes in place to train you and to help you, so that you are more well-developed in front of the media. Marshawn Lynch made a fool out of himself, actually it is a total embarrassment and not only to himself, but to the team and the NFL. I think the NFL needs to drop the hammer on him. As a matter of fact, I hope they do, because the skills of actually presenting yourself well, communication, those qualities are highly transferable to the rest of your life. There is going to be 50 more Marshawn Lynches in the NFL.


LEMON: And do you think that the NFL really cares, and if he can handle the football and score or tackle...


VALLETTA: And that is what they want out of him. That is why they hired him. Because he is good at playing football and he needs to represent the league, that is his job as an employee of the NFL.

LEMON: All right, standby everyone. The NFL has been accused of turning a blind eye of domestic violence, so during Sunday's game, it is going to address the issue in a powerful public service announcement. I'm going to show it to you next, but here just a part of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911 operator. 911, where's the emergency?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What is going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to order a pizza for delivery.



LEMON: Just days away, the NFL dealing with scandals on all sides and back with me is Rachel Nichols, Michael McCann, Pete Najarian and Chris Valletta. I want to play this domestic violence PSA, part of the league's no more campaign. This is the entire minute, but 30 seconds will play during the Super Bowl, and I want to get your opinion on this. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911, operator, 911. Where's the emergency?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What's going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to order a pizza for delivery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, you have reached 911. This is an emergency line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Half-pepperoni and half-mushroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you called 911, this is an emergency line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how long it will be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency or not?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you are unable to talk?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And is someone in the room with you? Just say yes or no.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. It looks like I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in the house?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you stay on the phone with me?



LEMON: Pretty powerful. Again, 30 seconds of that will play during the Super Bowl. Michael, to you first, we all know about Ray Rice suspended for two games, and suspended indefinitely only to have that punishment overturned on appeal, PSA is chilling, it is very powerful, but does the NFL do a good job in handling these cases?

MCCANN: Well, I think that I would say that the PSA is exactly the right message for the NFL, and it is powerful, and chilling, but in terms of how the NFL has handled the domestic violence, I think there are many grounds to critique the league. The Ray Rice scandal did not reflect well on the league. It appeared that they misunderstood the evidence or even lied about the evidence. It is time for the NFL to think seriously and hard about how it wants to handle domestic violence. It can't have another year like this next year.

LEMON: Yeah. You know, Pete, does the NFL -- you know, we are just talking about this before, it spent too much time fining players with things like wearing unapproved company logo instead of official sponsors gear, and not enough time on real troubles surrounding trouble with the players?

NAJARIAN: I think that's the history. If you look at the recent history, the leniency is certainly something that was not strong when it come s to the NFL. They did not go after folks when they needed to. I think this is very powerful, they are trying to raise awareness with that raising of the awareness of exactly what is going on throughout the rest of the league. They understand they got to punish, they got to act, they got to make these moves, and they cannot let the integrity of the league get dragged down.

LEMON: And you think it is the beginning, Pete, of something that is going to be of the larger campaign to deal with the issues?

NAJARIAN: Absolutely. I think that Roger Goodell is taking the steps that he needed to have taken long before this. And it took the video. Once everybody saw that video, the outrage really started to escalate. With that, suddenly, there's a committee and now, all kinds of interactions that are going on and Roger Goodell, the education, and the money thrown at this, this is something they are addressing now.

LEMON: Hey, Rachel, I want to ask you this, because as people are sitting down and watching the game, they say I want to be entertained, I want to talk about my team, is this subject maybe too heady, a subject too serious a subject in people's minds, or you think that fans are saying hey, this is about time?

NICHOLS: Well, it is not too heavy of a subject, but the fans are saying no matter what happens within the league, they love football. Don, 28 of the top 30 shows on TV this past fall were NFL games. You walk around here in Phoenix, you've been hearing the music behind me all night, it's like a party here, and the money is pouring in, advertising revenue, ticket sales, walking around the buildings here, as long as that happen, that is the NFL's bottom-line and that is what they will care about the most.

LEMON: OK. I want to ask everyone. I want to ask our sports reporter this issue, but Michael I want to ask you, is Roger Goodell the right guy to lead the league?

MCCANN: I think he has done a very good job in terms of the business aspects of the league, but in terms of the legal aspects, look, I don't think he has not done a very good job.

LEMON: OK. MCCANN: The Ray Rice matter, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy. There is a long list of problems. To me, a commissioner should really be -- maybe not a lawyer, but I'm biased, perhaps, but somebody with a law background.

LEMON: Yeah, I got to go. Yes or no, the right guy to lead the league?

VALLETTA: He is the right guy. Well, look, this is not an NFL issue.

LEMON: He is the right guy?

NAJARIAN: Yes, he the right guy.

LEMON: OK. Thank you, guys. Thanks, everyone. I appreciate it. We will be right back.