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New Sighting of Escaped Convicted Murderer; More Than 2,000 Killed After Powerful Quake Hits Morocco; President Biden Looks To Strengthen U.S.-Vietnam Ties As G20 Wraps; Category 2 Hurricane Lee May Regain Strength By Tomorrow; Flamingos Spotted In Ohio Following Hurricane Idalia; 145,000 Auto Workers Set To Strike This Week If No Deal Reached; 1-Day Strike By Auto Workers Could Cost U.S. Economy $5 Billion; Luis Rubiales Resigns As President Of Spanish Football Federation; "Hard Hits: Can Football Be Safe?" Airs Tonight At 8PM ET/PT. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 10, 2023 - 16:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And this breaking news on the manhunt for escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante. Just moments ago police holding a news conference in Chester County, Pennsylvania, as the search enters its 11th day. And this comes as officials say Cavalcante is no longer in the Phoenixville area, even though he was spotted there last night on a doorbell camera of a former work associate after changing his appearance.

Police say the fugitive was seen driving this van stolen from a nearby dairy farm. They say they have recovered the van without Cavalcante inside.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining us right now. They have expanded the search but do they seem to be concentrating on a particular area there in western Pennsylvania?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the Pennsylvania State Police characterized the last several hours of developments as a, quote, "minor setback." But when you really take a step back and look at just the dynamics here, it seems that it's anything but that as authorities only have a general idea of where he may be and it only took Cavalcante slipping that perimeter last night, making his way on to a dairy farm, and then getting into a dairy truck that the keys have been left inside for him to be able to escape this general area.

And this is where we are at this point, as we retrace the steps here. Investigators believe that it was last night that he was able to actually get that -- to steal that truck and then make his way north near Phoenixville, specifically in the East Pikeland Township. And that's where this ring camera video appears to show him clean shaven, fresh set of clothes, knocking on the door of a work acquaintance.

We're told that he only spent some time there before he eventually gave up and then he started heading west to East Nantmeal Township, and that is where Pennsylvania State Police told me he literally ran out of gas and had to ditch that van. And so that is the general area where authorities say that they have set up a, quote, "temporary perimeter" but they have nothing to indicate that he could potentially still be there.

And that's really what fueling some criticism here with many people are wondering and asking some very important questions, how hundreds of law enforcement personnel who believe they had contained this 34- year-old escaped convict were able to not notice him slip away and arrest him and that, as you're about to hear from one of the members of the Pennsylvania State Police has, quote, "no excuse."


LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I'm not going to make any excuse to you. I wish it had not happened. Unfortunately there are a lot of circumstances, there are a lot of issues associated with that property, tunnels, very large drainage ditches, things that could not be secured. You couple that with weather, aviation being down for a night. There are a number of reasons. Again, no excuses.


SANDOVAL: You can still see some live pictures from some of our affiliate partners showing still a heavy presence in parts of Pennsylvania. But again just to focus here as authorities believe that the general area where he may be -- again emphasis on may -- is northern Chester County. This is after he was able to actually get mobile with that truck.

Interesting thing we also learned today, Fred, is that Cavalcante's own sister is currently in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. George Bivens, the lieutenant colonel with the Pennsylvania State Police you just heard from, could not say exactly why that is. He was also asked if he had been potentially trying to offer any assistance to her brother to continue to be on the loose.

However, authorities would not say. They did, however, comment saying that they are trying to cut off any potential source of support because if there's anything that's telling in the last 20 hours of developments here is Cavalcante seems to be getting very desperate and quite literally knocking on the doors of those who he knew at one point trying to get some support as authorities try to track them down today, 11 days since he escaped the Chester County prison and now the search area has only grown.


WHITFIELD: All right. Keep us up to date as you get the information. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about all of this with bounty hunter Zeke Unger. He joins me now from California.

Zeke, great to see you. So we learned that Cavalcante attempted to contact someone he used to work with. They have evidence of that from the doorbell video, and we heard from a lieutenant colonel officer who said it is clear that he is looking for support and he doesn't have it.

Is this going to be how they're able to find him, that he may be reaching out to familiar people, territory, and he won't get it but investigators are getting ahead of things?

ZEKE UNGER, BOUNTY HUNTER: Well, in our game this is good stuff. In the fugitive game when these type of situations happen, it allows us to figure out where the fugitive has went temporarily. We know he stole a vehicle in previous interviews. We've said that's absolutely, you know, what they do. Change their appearance, textbook fugitive stuff. So right now what we need to do and what law enforcement is doing is they're waiting for the next incident to happen. They'll know where to set their perimeter up at that point.

The other good tool we're going to have now is now that he's moving out of the area, if he is going to be in a vehicle and we can identify that vehicle, the state troopers will get involved. They're normally -- interdiction and very good at identifying vehicles. This is going to be a culmination of law enforcement in totality to bring this to an end.

Fugitives move. Fugitive investigators, we move with the fugitive. It's not uncommon. Sometimes these things can take a while but they do get done.

WHITFIELD: So investigators have learned a couple of things, right, about him and his whereabouts, meaning he knows a few people or at least he felt like he knew at least two people that he could count on, former co-workers. He knew how to get there, to get to their homes. There was dialogue, we don't know what the dialogue is yet, because investigators say they only wanted to release for the sake of time constraints the images that came from the doorbell video.

He had the wherewithal to search a vehicle, found keys in it, and was able to get away with that van until it ran out of gas. So given that kind of information that investigators have gathered about him, his strategy, his familiarity with the area, how do investigators get ahead, so to speak, you know, of his next potential moves based on what they've learned?

UNGER: In a fugitive investigation, it's very tough to be proactive because you can't anticipate the human factor. We don't know what the fugitive is going to do. Unfortunately we have to react instead of be proactive, although gaining information is a big help because we're able to set up perimeters quickly. He was able to breach this perimeter by changing his appearance in a commercial vehicle.

It happens. And it's normal stuff that we have to deal with when we're investigating fugitives. The key to this is going to be that, you know, he can -- law enforcement can make mistakes but he can only make one. He will be coming back.

WHITFIELD: All right. So one mistake or maybe a couple mistakes, I mean, now we know what he looks like, right, or the general public has an idea of what he looks like. He's clean shaven now, he obtained that green hoodie, according to investigators very recently somewhere within the last 24 hours. Investigators usually want to be very careful about what they disseminate, the information they disseminate just in case a suspect is watching television, hears it on a radio, all that good stuff.

UNGER: That's true.

WHITFIELD: So what do you believe you're learning from what investigators are not sharing?

UNGER: Well, one of the things, too, you have to take into consideration after years and years of debriefing fugitives, I can tell you that these individuals are stressed out while they're on the run, not thinking clearly. They make mistakes and as you can see by what's going on here, he does not have any peripheral support, which means that he has to rely on his own actions in order to move forward. This is a telltale sign that he's going to do it again. It's just a question of where, which will set up the new incident.

WHITFIELD: Desperate people do desperate things, right? How concerned are you -- I mean, the officers made the inference there, the lieutenant colonel said many times, you know, about the potential dangers here. How concerned are you about the potential dangers for the general populace?

UNGER: Well, I mean, we're looking at an escaped murderer. We have to put that on the highest level, educate the public. And as you can see, the public has been very diligent in checking in and giving law enforcement information that's going to help in the apprehension. You know, we live in an age of good technology now.


It's not like the old days where we have to gum shoe detective work. Now we've got, you know, the community assisting, which is going to be monumental in this case.

WHITFIELD: All right. Zeke Unger, great talking to you. Thank you so much.

UNGER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Another top story we're following today, the death toll in Morocco rising to more than 2100 after a powerful earthquake hit late Friday. Residents say entire villages were damaged leaving some rescuers unable to retrieve bodies from the rubble. Emergency teams are now racing to find survivors in these critical hours.

CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley went to one isolated village that was completely destroyed and here's his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): People here in Asni, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, have thought that when this earthquake struck and it did this, they didn't so much feel the tremors as feel that they were being caught up in some kind of war. And that is exactly what it looks like. They didn't feel the ground shaking under them, they said, they felt and heard the sounds of explosions, explosions from within and without their own homes, and explosions up in the hills.

And 25 people were killed in the town of Moulay Ibrahim which is just about three kilometers, a mile and a half or so from here. This is normally a tourist paradise, not just for foreigners but for locals, too. Some of the victims still be left buried under the rubble because it's too dangerous to get them out are actually Moroccans who were up in these mountains enjoying the cooler temperatures in the summer.

Everybody we're talking to here, though, has got a complaint that the central government is really nowhere to be seen in their words. We have seen some evidence of their help with these yellow tents, offering temporary accommodation here. In Asni, that's accommodation for 1200 people who've lost their homes or whose homes are now uninhabitably dangerous. These areas have been struck in the last 24 hours by at least four aftershocks local people tell us.

And they're saying they're just not getting the help that they need. Inevitably there is always going to be a level of frustration from people hit with this cataclysmic event but there are dozens of these villages all over this region and for that reason it is the hardest hit region in all Morocco where the death toll continues to climb well over 2,000 now.

Sam Kiley, CNN, in Asni.


WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Sam.

All right. Still to come, President Biden continues a high-stakes trip through Asia as the White House looks to strengthen the relationship with one of China's closest neighbors. We're live in the region next. Plus, flamingos are showing up in states like Kentucky and Ohio, miles away from their natural habitats. We'll explain straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: President Biden is in Vietnam right now as he continues a high stakes swing through the Indo-Pacific. The president was greeted with a ceremony when he arrived at Hanoi's presidential palace earlier today. The U.S. is seeking to strengthen its ties with Vietnam and counter the influence of China and Russia in that part of the world.

President Biden's trip comes at a moment of heightened tension with China, and just today after he traveled to India for the G20 Summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the G20.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live for us in Hanoi.

So, Jeremy, it can't be overlooked, this trip is happening right on China's doorstep. What are President Biden's goals here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. And what's really significant here is that the move that President Biden made today to upgrade the U.S. relationship with Vietnam, putting the U.S. on the highest tier of diplomatic relations that Vietnam maintains on par with countries like China and Russia. This is a move that's really just the latest in a series of steps that President Biden has taken to get closer to a number of China's neighbors.

Within the last five months, President Biden has hosted the Philippines' president at the White House for the first visit by a Filipino president in more than a decade. He held a state dinner for the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and he also hosted this very symbolic summit at Camp David with the South Korean and Japanese leaders. And all of those countries are united, if not by an outright alarm, sense of alarm about China, then at least by a growing sense of concern and a wariness about the ways in which China is throwing around its military and economic might in this region.

And so President Biden both here as well as at the G20 where we saw him reach out to developing nations to try and put himself as a better partner, the United States as a better partner than China, to the developing world, he is really trying to counterbalance China's appeal to the developing world and its influence, its sphere of influence here in Aia. But the president even as he takes all of those steps, he's also trying to send a message to China, to the Chinese leader Xi Jinping saying that the United States is not trying to contain Beijing.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What this trip is about is less about containing China. I don't want to contain China. I just want to make sure we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up. Squared away. But as I said, we're not looking to hurt China. Sincerely. We're all better off if China does well.


DIAMOND: And just as President Biden is trying to get closer to a number of China's neighbors, he is also trying to normalize effectively the relationship with China.


He has dispatched a series of his Cabinet secretaries to Beijing in recent months, and there is the possibility that President Biden could sit down once again with the Chinese leader at some point later this year. But so far China does not seem to be taking what President Biden is offering on this. China seems to be resisting the idea of reestablishing the relationship based on the rules of the road, of the world order that has existed for decades now. It wants a fundamental shift that perhaps President Biden is not willing to offer.

Now one more note that I will make is that President Biden, as he is taking these steps, he's getting closer to a number of countries that have serious human rights and press freedom issues, no less than right here in Vietnam, which is listed as 178th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders World Press Index. It is the third largest jailer of journalists in the world and yet President Biden taking the step to bring economic, military and diplomatic ties with Vietnam to new heights.

I asked the president whether he is putting the U.S.'s strategic interests ahead of human rights and the president said I don't put anything above human rights, and I've raised it with every leader I've met with -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much.

Still to come, a looming strike that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, that's if the autoworkers union and three major U.S. carmakers can't negotiate a deal before the deadline that's less than a week away.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Powerful Hurricane Lee is churning in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm is currently a category two but is expected to restrengthen and grow in the coming days.

Let's go to meteorologist Jennifer Gray in the CNN Weather Center.

Jennifer, what's this storm doing?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. There's a lot of questions surrounding Lee, especially if it will have any impacts along the U.S. East Coast. That's the million-dollar question. Right now a category two borderline. It's got 110 miles per hour winds. If we reach 111, that's back to a category three. It's moving to the west, northwest at about eight miles per hour. The last two frames of this deal with a little bit better. We will get another update from the hurricane center in the next half hour or so, so we'll see if there is strengthen indeed.

But this is expected to strengthen back into a category three, possibly category four by midweek. And then it will enter some cooler waters left over by Franklin, if you remember that one, and so that could cause some weakening to a category two or even one by the time we get to the end of the week, but this one is going to be a slow mover. So we will have a long time to watch this and talk about it. Several different scenarios here.

This is expected to take that sharp turn to the north but exactly when that takes place will make all the difference with how close or far this is from the U.S. mainland. And so that's going to be the big question moving forward. Basically these two areas of high pressure is going to steer right in between this low that's over the Midwest. It will sort of push it across the north and east and follow that path, but two possible paths, one would be a little closer to the U.S., one farther away so the closer it is obviously, Fred, we're going to have more impacts to the U.S. coast like rip currents, high surf, things like that.

So it's too early to tell if we'll see greater impacts that than or not. I think we'll have a clearer picture by the middle part of the week. But yes, this has been a very powerful storm in the past and the potential to be a powerful storm in the coming days. So one definitely to watch.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

And of course impacts from storms measured in lots of different ways. In fact, still ahead, wild flamingos in Ohio now? The tropical birds have been spotted thousands of miles away from their homes and largely because of Hurricane Idalia. Stay with us.



WHITFIELD: All right, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Idalia hit Florida's Gulf Coast, a rather curious discovery. Flamingo sightings, not necessarily in Florida, but as far north as Ohio. And experts believe that Hurricane Idalia's path may have diverted the birds to various states while they were flying between Cuba and Mexico.

Joining me right now is Jerry Lorenz, a state director of research for Audubon Florida. Great to see you. So wow, what a discovery the folks in Ohio made. I mean, they probably couldn't believe their eyes when they saw these pink birds in their tributaries. Does this happen often?

JERRY LORENZ, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, AUDUBON FLORIDA: No, this is very rare. I mean, having grown up in Cincinnati, I would say that this is the first. I never saw flamingos when I was growing up.

WHITFIELD: No, I imagine that would knock you off your socks. All right, so --


WHITFIELD: -- how are they going to do? I mean, you know, they are in unfamiliar territory. And while the weather may be a little bit mild now, they really are -- they best survive in warmer climates. How are they going to do?

LORENZ: Well, they'll leave. These are healthy birds. They're probably hanging around now simply because they're exhausted. But, you know, flamingos, American flamingos is the species and they are quite capable of long distance flights.

WHITFIELD: Yes, they did get there after all by flying.

LORENZ: Correct. They probably had to fly much longer than a direct path. Either they were dodging the hurricane, following the hurricane, or caught up in it. And no matter how you slice and dice that, it is a long path for them to get to places like Ohio and Kentucky and Tennessee, like that.

They -- what I expect to have happen, I would really love -- flamingos are native to the United States in Florida. So they were hunted to extinction in the 1880s, 90s and early 1900. And they were extremely -- I mean, they almost became extinct throughout their range.

That's -- as the species has recovered since the 1920s, the numbers have steadily gone up from, you know, approximately 20,000 to 30, 000 now, probably more like half a million to a million, maybe more than that. And as they --

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's impressive.

LORENZ: Yes. And as they -- as the healthy becomes -- as the population becomes more healthy, we expect them to basically retake their range, which includes extreme southern Florida, like where I am, in the Florida Keys and in the Everglades.


And so what we're hoping happens is that these birds aggregate back in either Florida Bay, the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park, and stay here and become a permanent population. But the most likely scenario is that they, they appear to be from Mexico because we've now cited two of these were banded as chicks in nesting colonies from Mexico.


LORENZ: And so, we think they would come -- kind of come back to Florida and drips and drabs, and then in larger groups probably fly back to either Cuba or the Yucatan.

WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting. So of the pictures that we saw, I mean, right now we're looking at, you know, Florida where they are supposed to be and it's a large flock, but then in the other images that we saw were appeared to be in Ohio. We only saw a couple. You know, do we believe that it was, you know, a small group that kind of strayed, or do they usually fly in a large flock, whether they're, you know, escaping, you know, inclement weather, you know, escaping this Idalia or anything else, would they be in a large flock and then make their return --


WHITFIELD: -- in a large flock?


WHITFIELD: OK. LORENZ: They can travel in very large flocks. They can also travel as individuals or groups of two or three. But there is -- there are plenty of examples of, you know, thousands of birds making a trip, say across from Cuba to the Yucatan.

So, you know, the way -- this scenario that I generally paint, and I don't know if this is true, is a large group was probably making that flight and Idalia blew up so quickly off the coast of the Yucatan, that they kept trying to fly around it to either the north or the south, and it just kept getting bigger until they couldn't get around it and either flew with it or were carried.

You know, most of the recitings are in Florida, but the storm kept going through the southern states. And if you look at, you know, where the biggest parts of the storm were, the places we're seeing these birds are to the north and south. And so you can just imagine the storm going forward and these birds kind of falling out bad.

WHITFIELD: All right, these clever, curious birds. Well, it's been fascinating and I'm sure a real treat for folks in Ohio and other places more northernly to spot a pink flamingo. Very fun.

Jerry Lorenz, thank you so much.

LORENZ: Thank you so much for your -- for having me.

LORENZ: Wonderful. All right, we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right, this week, about 145, 000 United Auto Workers could go on strike if they can't reach an agreement with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. Stellantis is a company that owns Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, among other brands. The unions want big pay raises and restorations of concessions the workers made years ago when the companies were in financial trouble.

And so far, the big three automakers offers are far from the union's demands. Economic experts say a 10-day strike against all three automakers would cost the U.S. economy more than $5 billion.

With me now to talk about all of this is William Gould, he is a law professor at Stanford Law School, and he has helped negotiate the end of more than 300 labor disputes over the years, including ending the Major League Baseball strike of 1994, '95. He is also the author of the book for labor to build upon wars, depression and pandemic. And he's also the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.

Professor Gold, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So the union and automakers now have until midnight on Thursday to reach a deal. Do you expect an agreement or is a strike imminent?

GOULD: Well, I think the strike is, there's a probability of a strike, a slight probability. You don't know until you get down to the final moment. But I think the parties are so far apart on so many issues, wages, temporary employees, plant closures and very, very important is the introduction of electrical cars, which are going to require fewer workers and will eliminate the jobs of workers who do the engine work transmission. So there's a lot on the table and a very short period of time to narrow the differences between the parties.

WHITFIELD: If you were involved in these negotiations, how would you help bring them together?

GOULD: Well, I think the big thing, aside from an accommodation on wages, which is going to have to fall somewhere in between the competing demands and offers of both sides is to find an answer to this new technology. And I think, somehow the workers who are, fear dislocation quite correctly by the introduction of the new cars, are going to have to have some opportunity, some security, some financial compensation as they transition into other jobs.


The -- this is a theme that is running through many industries now. The introduction of new technology, which creates concern and uncertainty on the part of workers.

WHITFIELD: Yes, I mean, this possible strike is one thing, but there have been a lot of strikes lately, right? I mean, you got the Hollywood writers, you know, you've got hotel hospitality, workers, and at the root, you know, pay increases are a common thread.

But also, just as you mentioned, the introduction of new technology, artificial intelligence is a big one. Is that part of the problem here with the United Auto Workers Union and their differences with the automakers?

GOULD: Yes, I think, this is an enormous problem for auto. You have to recognize that the auto workers entered into at the time of the Great Recession, concessionary agreements. Well, now, they see over the past decade enormous profits for the corporations and tremendous increase in compensation for executives in these companies.

And, meanwhile, the -- in the wake of the pandemic, there has been more uncertainty. Inflation has, cut into, increases that there's been no cost of living, increase in the collective bargaining agreements, which used to exist. So, there are -- as I say, there's a lot on their plates.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Professor William Gould, glad you could be with us. Thank you so much. Keep us posted as we all watch for that upcoming deadline. Thanks so much.

All right, before we go to break, meet this week's CNN hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) YASMINE ARRINGTON, CNN HERO: What we're ultimately doing is ensuring that young people who have incarcerated parents are overcoming systemic barriers and also changing the trajectory of not only their lives, but their families' lives and breaking the stereotypes and the stigma around having an incarcerated parent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get ready for graduation?

ARRINGTON: Yes, I'm not -- congratulations. I'm so excited.

What keeps me going? It's that proud mama effect to see our scholars just achieve and accomplish and over time gain a sense of healthy confidence. Just a little bit of support can go a very, very long way. It really is a snowball effect.


WHITFIELD: All right, to find out how Yasmine has supported more than 80 scholars working toward their college degrees, go to



WHITFIELD: All right, this breaking news just in to CNN. Luis Rubiales just announced that he will resign as president of the Spanish Soccer Federation. It follows weeks of criticism and widespread fallout after he kissed Spanish soccer star Jenni Hermoso after the team won the World Cup.

CNN's Don Riddell joining me now. Don, what are you learning?

DON RIDDELL, HOST, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, just, this whole saga has been absolutely remarkable, Fred, and here we are, Rubiales, after three weeks finally stepping down. And remember, he has been absolutely defiant up until this point. But this statement released literally within the last 10 or 20 minutes, I'm going to bring it up on the screen so you can see it.

He said, "Today, I notified the interim president at 9 30 p.m., Mr. Pedro Rocha, that I have resigned as president of the Spanish Football Federation. I have also let him know that I have resign my position in UEFA", that's European Soccer's governing body, "so that my vice presidency position there can be filled.

To insist in waiting around and holding onto that won't contribute anything positive, neither to the Federation nor to the Spanish football. Among other things because there are actual powers which will prevent my return".

He had already been suspended by the world governing body of FIFA and it's going to be really interesting to see what happens now, because in the last three weeks, so many things have happened. Remember, all of the players refused to play for the national team again until Rubiales was gone. Then the coaching staff all resigned in protest. Then the head coach, Jorge Vilda, was fired. The players have had many, many issues with him over the last few years. So he had already been fired last week. And remember, this all comes at a time when Spain are bidding to co- host the men's World Cup tournament in 2030.

And as a result of this scandal, and Rubiales defiant refusal to stand down, really the reputation of Spanish football on the world stage had been dragged through the mud. So the question now is going to be, what took so long if you were going to resign anyway? It sounds like there have been pressures upon him and he has finally decided that there's just no way he can continue.

His position is untenable. And, he has exited the stage.

WHITFIELD: Right, and will all those coaches who elected to leave, will they all come back? Whole lot of questions.


WHITFIELD: Don Riddell, thanks so much.


All right, this week, millions of fans are celebrating the start of the American football season in the NFL. CNN Sports Anchor and Correspondent Coy Wire sat down with some of the biggest names in football today, including three-time Super Bowl winning Kansas City head coach Andy Reid for his upcoming documentary, "Hard Hits: Can Football Be Safe?" Here's a preview.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR (on-camera): What do you think it is about the game that fans just love this sport?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It encompasses what we all go through. There are challenges in life. There's challenges on the football field. There's a camaraderie and excitement. You get to see all the different races and religions brought together. And that's celebrated.

WIRE (voice-over): And make no mistake about it, football's a way of life for many Americans. From peewee leagues and flag football to high school football's Friday night lights. And colleges and universities all across this country, people are obsessed with football.


WHITFIELD: Obsessed is the right word. Joining us right now CNN's own Coy Wire. This is your documentary. Can't wait to see all of it. You know, you spent nine seasons playing in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and the Atlanta Hawks, right? So how much, you know, has player safety, you know, change since, you know, you were playing at the college level as well?

WIRE: It is a whole new world, like "Aladdin", my two daughters would say, Fredricka. Training camps sound more like pillow fights at times, with players in the trenches being required to wear these guardian caps at the NFL level. They're these pillow like caps over the helmets. There are no true contact two days allowed anymore.

There's a concussion protocol forcing players with symptoms to sit out, the emergency action plan, which saved tomorrow Hamlin's life of the Buffalo Bills last season. That's in place upwards of 50 rule changes over the last two decades. We went to an NFL funded research lab, Fredricka. And they're testing and evolving shoulder pads, cleats and helmets.

They're evolving helmets at nine times the rate they used to. This is the one I used to wear.


WIRE: And it now is banned. You're prohibited from wearing this because it is not safe enough. Shout out to my Atlanta Falcons. They got their win in their opener today. Rise up. But the reporting, Fredricka, shows that undoubtedly the game is safer now than it's ever been. And is likely going to continue to get safer if the trends continue.

I can't wait to see more about those labs where, you know, they show in the clip the various ways of the hits. And so the helmet ultimately will keep those positions in consideration when they, you know, manufacture them. How far away is that?

WIRE: Well, this year for the first time ever, we will see a new helmet on the quarterbacks. There's more padding on the back of the helmet. So because a lot of -- quarterbacks hit the back of their head on the ground, so they've built that up.

They're using crowdsourcing. They're encouraging engineers from all over the world, biomechanical engineers to submit helmet prototypes, and they're testing them, and they often be approved by Nox (ph), which is the same sort of helmet verification entity that does motor -- helmets, for example.

But listen, this is, very important stuff, and it's important because there's a trickledown effect, right?


WIRE: What the pros are doing is going to help keep our kids safer today and that's in the end to me is most important. There's a lot of parents out there who are rightfully concerned about their sons, their daughters getting into a sport like football.


WIRE: So that's why we wanted to do this in large part to see just how dangerous is the game today. What's being done to keep it as safe as possible for the now and for the next generation?

WHITFIELD: Yes. And what did your investigation find in terms of the difference? There are a lot of parents who are cautious about their kids playing, perhaps they won't let them play in the elementary school level. Maybe not even middle school. Maybe not until high school, etcetera.

All of that makes a difference. Does it not? I mean, is that what your investigation found in terms of, you know, the kinds of hits that a lot of the kids --

WIRE: Yes.

WHITFIELD: -- you know, players take?

WIRE: Right.

WHITFIELD: It makes a difference how frequently and from what I guess point, you know, of start it all began.

WIRE: Yes. Well, I think what's really important thing is that what the NFL is doing on all levels to make the game safe through the rule changes, through the new protocol, what they're doing sets the tone for what happens at our collegiate high school and youth levels.

All 50 states now, Fredricka, have concussion protocols. We see high school kids across the country starting to wear those guardian caps on their helmets that I was telling you about, the padded helmet. And I would urge parents out there who are concerned to make sure your coaches and your schools are vigilant about having the best equipment, the best protocols in place to keep your kids safe.

And hey, if you want to start young, you can always play flag football at the youth level too. That's exciting stuff.

WHITFIELD: Yes, OK, very exciting. Coy Wire, we look forward to it.

The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper --

WIRE: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic -- that's airing tonight at eight o'clock on CNN. Thank you so much, Coy.