updated 12/15/2004 3:49:20 PM ET 2004-12-15T20:49:20

Guests: Stephen Cardosi, Gregory Beratlis, Richelle Nice, John Mizener, Rev. Rick Kielley, Ryan Hawks, Sgt. Steve Shulman, Joe Ehrmann, Jeffrey Marx, Mike Dowling

GREGORY BERATLIS, PETERSON JUROR:  There was no winner.  They both—everybody lost in this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Tonight, the jurors who recommended the death penalty for Scott Peterson on how they made the toughest decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN CARDOSI, PETERSON JURY FOREMAN:  It just seemed to be the appropriate justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Vanished.  Tonight, two mysteries.  She was last seen on a cruise ship, having dinner and singing karaoke.  Now her entire family is baffled.  What happened to Annette Mizener?  And this couple had been living a well-deserved retirement on their dream boat.  Now they‘re missing, and all police have to go on is an empty yacht.  Plus, the hard-partying pro football legend who now dedicates his life to inspiring kids.  The story of Joe Ehrmann.

ANNOUNCER:  From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

NORVILLE:  Good evening.  We begin tonight with a look inside the jury room.  After finding Scott Peterson guilty of murder, a jury of six men and six women sentenced him to death yesterday after deliberating for almost 12 hours over three days.  Joining me now are two of those jurors, jury foreman Stephen Cardosi and juror Gregory Beratlis.

Gentlemen, I thank you for being with us.  Before we get into the details of the discussions, let me ask you both, how hard was this for you?  Greg, you first.

GREGORY BERATLIS, PETERSON JUROR:  This was the toughest decision of my life.  This was listening to all the information and having to decipher this and having to hold in all your thoughts and not being able to talk to anybody about it, not one word, not being able to read papers, watch television that had anything to deal with this, not being able to come home and talk about things that were bothering you, and then the ultimate decision.  It was tough.  This is by far the hardest—there was no joy in this for me.

NORVILLE:  I‘m sure there wasn‘t.

BERATLIS:  You know, I went with my heart.

NORVILLE:  Was it tougher than you expected?  I know you anticipated this was not going to be an easy task, but you did your civic duty.  Was it harder than you anticipated it was going to be?

BERATLIS:  Definitely.  Definitely.  To be honest with you, I watched

·         going in here, Scott Peterson, in my mind, was innocent.

NORVILLE:  Right.

BERATLIS:  Was innocent.  So I needed to have the facts.  I did not know where we were going to go with this.  And then when—to take all those facts and then land up with the decision I had made—tough.

NORVILLE:  Yes.

BERATLIS:  Very tough.

NORVILLE:  Stephen, what about you?  How hard was this for you, being a juror on a case involving the life or death of this man?

STEPHEN CARDOSI, JURY FOREMAN:  It was very difficult to be doing this on this case, for many reasons.  Just a lack of free time and personal time on the personal level—that was difficult, a very difficult adaptation for me.  As far as the decision, once again, the same as Greg.  It‘s one of the most difficult decisions and kind of puts your stomach in knots.  And you know, it‘s a tough decision to make.  And like I‘m sure all of us were, from day one of the trial, Scott Peterson was innocent until proven guilty.  And only through hearing and listening to everything that was presented and through deliberations did it change to the point of where he is now.

NORVILLE:  And what was it for you, Mr. Cardosi, that convinced you this man was guilty of these two murders?

CARDOSI:  It was—it was many different things.  And there were so many different circumstantial pieces of evidence in this case that when you put them all together, kind of like the pieces of a puzzle, they made a picture.  And that picture kind of pointed to one person only for me.

NORVILLE:  Greg, those of us on the outside who were watching this wondered if it really mattered that Scott Peterson never took the stand, either in his own defense during the evidence part of the trial, or later on during the mitigation phase, when you were deciding penalty.  Did that matter to you?

BERATLIS:  I felt that it would have been—it would have spoke

highly of him.  I think I said yesterday, when we found him guilty, I know

myself, if I had not done this and I was told that I was guilty of

something, in my heart, I would have—I would have fought.  I would have

·         I would have—I would—I‘d want to—I would want to prove my innocence.  And that didn‘t happen.  But then again, you know, we were instructed not to read into those things...

NORVILLE:  Right.

BERATLIS:  ... by—pardon?

NORVILLE:  Yes.  You were.  I mean, you‘re told not to judge him because he didn‘t speak up.  That‘s not a factor you can consider.

BERATLIS:  Correct.  Correct.  So that had to be removed.  And I thought about it, but that couldn‘t be something that had to be brought—you couldn‘t go into the deliberation saying, That‘s a key issue, that—no.  And we knew that...

NORVILLE:  You just had to leave that...

BERATLIS:  ... that it wasn‘t...

NORVILLE:  ... outside the room.  Yes.

Also joining our discussion, there‘s another of the jurors on the Peterson case.  Richelle Nice is with us.  Richelle, we‘ve been talking, while you were getting hooked up, about just how difficult it was.  And I wonder, how impactful was Amber Frey, not only her testimony for you in making your decision, but also all of those taped telephone conversations?  Was that a large factor in your own personal decision?

RICHELLE NICE, PETERSON JUROR:  I just think Amber Frey was one of Scott‘s victims, someone he manipulated, like everybody else.

NORVILLE:  You know, another thing, too.  Again, we‘re only now getting a chance to find out from you all what was going on in your minds.  From the outside looking in, it kept coming back to a number of observers that going into the trial, when opening arguments began in June, Mark Geragos made a lot of promises to you.  And among those promises, he had some—a laundry list of things that he said he was going to prove.  I want just to go through that list and ask about that.  He said Scott was “stone cold innocent,” that he loved his wife and awaited the birth of their child, that he‘d been working tirelessly to find Laci.  He said he would offer you all proof that that little baby was born alive.  He said that he would show you five witnesses who saw Laci after she, quote, “disappeared,” and he said the prosecutors had zero, zip, nada evidence.

Richelle, at any point during deliberations, did you remember what Mr.

Geragos had said early on and go, Wait a minute, we never saw that?

NICE:  I think when he rested, my mouth dropped open.  I was shocked that it was just that clean.  He didn‘t present a case, the case that he said he was going to present.  And yes, I think I was disappointed.

NORVILLE:  Mr. Beratlis...

NICE:  I think that did...

NORVILLE:  Sorry.  Go ahead.

NICE:  I think that did weigh on my mind.

NORVILLE:  Mr. Beratlis, you‘ve sat there for six months, as did your fellow jurors, and you listened to everything.  If you‘d had the opportunity to ask Scott Peterson one question, what would you have asked him?

NICE:  Why?

BERATLIS:  Why the lies?

NICE:  Exactly.

BERATLIS:  Why the lies?

NICE:  Why not divorce.

NORVILLE:  As Ms. Rocha said, when she was doing her testimony.

NICE:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  And Mr. Cardosi, let me ask you.  It‘s unimaginable to those of us who‘ve never been in this position what it‘s like to vote to send a man to death row.  We know it was not an easy decision.  We know it‘s one you all wrestled with, certainly for the 12 hours that you met, but probably a lot more than that during your own private time.  Is there anything that the case could have presented to you that would have enabled you to go in a different direction?

CARDOSI:  Like I said, and Greg has said before, if the bodies were found somewhere other than the Berkeley marina, I don‘t think any of us would be here.  For me, the personal nature of the crime, the fact that it was his wife, his unborn child, and not just some random act of violence, kind of made it—I wouldn‘t say easy, but it led me to feel more comfortable with the death penalty versus just life in prison.

NORVILLE:  We know it‘s a difficult civic duty you have done.  We thank you both.  Stephen Cardosi, Gregory Beratlis, thank you both for being with us.

And as we dismiss you, Richelle, we want to talk to you for just a moment longer because we didn‘t get to speak to you there at the beginning.

NICE:  OK.

NORVILLE:  What question would you ask Scott Peterson, not just why the lies, but what specific question would you like to have him explain to you now, having heard everything and knowing everything that you do about this case?

NICE:  I don‘t—just “Why” comes to my mind because I can‘t—I can‘t put it together.  I can‘t—I can‘t understand why.  I just really can‘t.

NORVILLE:  And having served on this jury for close to seven months, if you‘re called for jury duty again, do you think you‘ll try to get out of it?

NICE:  I don‘t want to serve for a while.

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  I have a feeling all you have to say is, I was on the Peterson case, and the judges would thank you very much for showing up that day.  Richelle Nice, thank you for your time.  And we appreciate you sharing what it was like to be a part of this very newsworthy case.

NICE:  Thank you.  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  We wish you well.

Coming up, two mysteries at sea.  Annette Mizener, a young mother from Wisconsin, disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship.  Her purse was found near a railing.  Did she fall, did she jump, or was she pushed?  The FBI is investigating.  Plus, we‘ll look into the search for a California couple.  They disappeared shortly after selling the yacht on which they were living.  I‘ll talk with their son, who suspects foul play in this case.  Those stories when we return.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are unanswered questions, and we‘re just looking for somebody that can provide some tip, some bit of information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  That was the brother of Annette Mizener, a Wisconsin mother of two who disappeared from the Carnival cruise ship Pride off the coast of Mexico 10 days ago.  She was on vacation with her parents and her 17-year-old daughter.  She spent the evening at dinner, singing karaoke, and was supposed to meet up with her family for a round of bingo.  Her purse was found near a shipboard railing, and now the FBI is investigating.

And joining to talk about his wife‘s disappearance, Annette Mizener‘s husband, John Mizener.  Also joining him is his pastor, the Reverend Rick Kielley.  Gentlemen, I thank you for being with us.

Mr. Mizener, I can‘t even imagine what you‘re going through.  What do you think has happened to your wife?

JOHN MIZENER, WIFE VANISHED FROM CRUISE SHIP:  I think she‘s gone. 

We‘re trying to find answers to find out what happened, you know?

NORVILLE:  The FBI says—sorry.  Go ahead.

MIZENER:  What do you—what do you want to know?

NORVILLE:  Well, I‘m just curious what you think happened.  The FBI says they‘re not ruling anything out, that it could have been an accident, she fell, that there could have been foul play.  They even say it‘s possible that she could have jumped.  Are there any of those possibilities that you could rule out, sir?

MIZENER:  Yes.  You can rule out the jumping.  Yes.  And just—you know, just knowing her, just even to be that close to a rail like that, she would be telling people to get away from it.  She‘s—it‘s not—nothing fits about, you know, how it happened.  You know, they have stuff about, you know, the camera.  You know, you hear all that, and—and you know, like I said, we‘re looking for some answers, you know?

NORVILLE:  And what I understand about the cameras, so everybody understands, is her purse was found on the deck near a railing, and there was actually a security camera in that area, but it turns out that security camera had been blocked somehow.  What can you tell us about that?

MIZENER:  All I know is it was covered up.  I don‘t know with what.  It was a surveillance camera.  You know, it should have been noticed right away.

NORVILLE:  And when did it turn up that your wife was missing?  When did your other family members, your in-laws and your daughter, first notice that she hadn‘t come where she was meant to be for the bingo?  About what time was that?

MIZENER:  I think between 10:00 and 11:00 Pacific time.  They were supposed to meet up, I believe, at 10:00 for bingo, and she didn‘t show up.  And they were—you know, people had been calling, telling us that they‘d seen everybody looking for people, you know, all that, so they were looking.

NORVILLE:  So was your family aware that they were searching for someone on the boat?  Did they go to the cruise officials and say, We can‘t find our mom, our daughter.  We‘re looking for her.  Can you help us?  And they immediately started a search?

MIZENER:  I‘m not sure how that was all handled exactly.

NORVILLE:  Right.

MIZENER:  I‘ve heard all different things.  It could have been done a lot differently.  I know that much.  That‘s how I feel.  You know, the picture that was passed around of her—passed around of her, the people that remember her from the cruise didn‘t even recognize her from the picture they passed around.

NORVILLE:  So you think the cruise people didn‘t do as good a job right there at the beginning as they could have in asking about your wife.

MIZENER:  I think there‘s some things that could be improved, you know.  I mean, everything‘s being looked into, as far as that goes.  I‘m not as concerned about that right now as, you know, having—finding out what happened to her.

NORVILLE:  Yes.

MIZENER:  I mean, she‘s not on the boat, OK?  She‘s not there.  What happened?  I mean, she just don‘t leave a purse laying there.  There was, you know, the camera, like everybody‘s saying.  We‘re just hoping, you know, whether it‘s—it could be a child might have saw something in the wrong area or something, you know, afraid to say, you know?  Somebody had to have seen something, man.  She—people knew when she was around.  It‘s just—they would have noticed something.

NORVILLE:  And that‘s why the FBI has asked people who were a part of that particular cruise to let them know any information.  And I know you think that maybe somebody knows something.  It just hasn‘t occurred to them to contact.  They can contact the FBI at the local office, or they can go on line to the fbi.org Web site.  We‘ve just put the address up on the screen.

And Mr. Mizener, you know what Carnival has said.  They‘ve said they extend their deepest and sincere concern and sympathy to the family and the loved ones of the missing guest.  They say, “Such occurrences are rare and are very upsetting to our company and our employees.”  Is that good enough for you?

MIZENER:  No.  I didn‘t like it.  I‘d like to have had a call, you know, from the ship...

NORVILLE:  They haven‘t called you?

MIZENER:  ... to ask me—they did.  They did yesterday.  They did.

NORVILLE:  But your wife‘s been missing for 10 days!

MIZENER:  I know.

NORVILLE:  Reverend Kielley, what can you say during a time like this for someone like Mr. Mizener and his family, who are obviously just distraught beyond about this mystery as to what has happened to Annette?  What can you offer in terms of words of comfort that can help?

REV. RICK KIELLEY, MIZENER FAMILY SPOKESMAN:  Well, as his pastor and as a congregation, we‘ve prayed with him.  We‘ve hugged him and held him.  We‘ve tried to screen him from some things so that he could go through this grieving process.  But just like Mr. Mizener, we think that some things need to change in the future so that nobody would have to go through this again.  I don‘t understand the legality of things, but I think it would be proper to at least call a man and let him know that something‘s wrong, And here‘s the contact person and the number, and we‘re going to stay in touch, not wait so long.

NORVILLE:  Well, we hope that being on television and talking about it, Mr. Mizener, somehow encourages someone to get in touch with the FBI, and we hope these questions get answered soon.  I know how hard this is, especially this time of year.  John Mizener, we wish you and your family well.  Reverend Kielley, thank you for your time.

KIELLEY:  Thank you.

MIZENER:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  When we come back, we‘re going to look at another mystery.  A couple living out their retirement dream on a boat and they vanish, and all police have to go on is this empty yacht.  What‘s behind this mystery?  That‘s next.  And then later on, a pro football legend saying winning isn‘t just about the game or about the money.  Football legend Joe Ehrmann‘s unique legacy still to come.

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(NEWS BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Now to another baffling disappearance, this one in Newport Beach, California.  A retired couple, Jackie and Tom Hawks, vanished last month after selling the 55-foot yacht where they lived.  Police are now investigating whether their disappearance might be tied to the sale of that boat.

Joining me now is their son, Ryan Hawks, and Newport Beach police sergeant Steve Shulman.  Gentlemen, thanks for being with us.

Ryan, let me start with you.  When did you first become suspicious that your parents were out of touch, unnaturally so?

RYAN HAWKS, SON OF MISSING PARENTS:  Probably just a couple days before Thanksgiving.  One, we didn‘t hear any word from them.  And two, we knew they were about ready to sell their boat, and they knew—they knew that we were going to need some help to go up there, but we didn‘t hear back from them.  And not only that, but my younger brother just had a brand-new boy, and they‘ve been keeping in touch, you know, every other day because they were just ecstatic about it, so...

NORVILLE:  So when‘s the last time...

HAWKS:  ... that‘s what really got our concern...

NORVILLE:  ... somebody actually heard from them?  What was the date, would you say?

HAWKS:  The 15th of November.

NORVILLE:  And they were about to sell their boat, and this was—this was a big part of their life.  It was called Well Deserved, which is a great name for a boat on which you retire.  And they spent a lot of time there, but you say they were sort of down-sizing their lives and just kind of making it a little less complicated.

HAWKS:  Yes.  That‘s correct.  It‘s a really big boat for, like, two people to manage, and what they wanted to do is get a smaller boat and—in the Sea of Cortez around Baja and the San Carlos area because that‘s the area they really loved the most, and it‘s also relatively pretty short from Arizona Drive, where we have a lot of friends and relatives, so—that was the idea behind selling it.

NORVILLE:  And Sergeant, I understand that this sale was for around $400,000, and what I have read is that this was a cash sale.  When you say a cash sale, are we talking about stacks of hundred-dollar bills, that kind of a cash sale, or a cashier‘s check?

SGT. STEVE SHULMAN, NEWPORT BEACH, CA, POLICE:  No, we‘re talking about cash.  But the information that we have is coming directly from the buyer, and we don‘t have the Hawkses to verify the information.  Not that we have any reason to disbelieve the buyer at this time, but it is a rather unusual way to make a purchase of a boat.

NORVILLE:  And Mr. Hawks is a retired probation officer, so I‘m guessing that he would be a pretty skeptical customer.  You wouldn‘t be able to get a whole lot past him, no?

SHULMAN:  Well, I don‘t know enough about his business savvy or much about his life, and Ryan would be much better apt to be able to tell you about that.  But he was a probation officer, and I would believe that he‘s pretty street smart in that regard.

NORVILLE:  And you all are pretty street smart.  One of the things you, as police officers, do is go through the credit cards, look at bank statements, try to trace their activity as best you can.  At what point does that trail for Mr. And Mrs. Hawks disappear, Sergeant?

SHULMAN:  Well, we don‘t have any activity regarding bank accounts.   We don‘t have any bank account that has the money that supposedly took place with regard to the boat transaction.  So we‘ve lost pretty much contact with them electronically and financially since the transaction of the boat sale, as described by the boat buyer.

NORVILLE:  And is he a suspect?

SHULMAN:  Well, there really isn‘t any suspects at this point because right now, we don‘t—we haven‘t verified there‘s a crime.  But I would certainly say that as time goes on and our investigators are finding more information out and verifying information, it certainly becomes more suspicious.

NORVILLE:  Ryan, what is your suspicion, because that‘s really all you‘ve got to go on now, as to what happened to your mom and dad?

HAWKS:  It‘s true, and it‘s really difficult.  And every day that I wake up, you know, it‘s just another day gone wrong.  But you know, my concern is with my family.  And my first priority in life is, one, making sure about their safety.  You know, where are they?  Are they OK?  You know, another thing is, you know, where‘s their car, their 1998 Honda silver CRV, or some of their personal belongings?  These are some crucial things that will tell a lot where they are and lead us to them.  So that‘s where my first priority and major concern is, finding them.  That‘s the important thing.

NORVILLE:  Do you think they‘re dead, since you haven‘t heard from them now in almost a month?

HAWKS:  That‘s—that‘s a tough question.  And you know, you got to look—it‘s just like anything in life.  You got to stay focused.  You have to stay positive.  And that‘s the way I‘m staying 100 percent.  You know, I think there‘s something incredibly wrong, and there—I‘m just praying there‘s some reasonable explanation behind this crazy story.

NORVILLE:  Yes.

HAWKS:  And I‘m just focusing on, you know, them back in my life because they were a big part of it, along with family and friends.

NORVILLE:  I‘m sure they are, and we want to help as much as we can. 

We want to up a phone number for the police station.  It‘s 800-550-6273.  And we should also note that if you go our Web site, we‘ve got a link for you.  norville.msnbc.com.  More information there.

Gentlemen, thanks, and we wish you good luck.

HAWKS:  Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  Still ahead, a pro sportsman saying that winning isn‘t everything about the game, it‘s not about the game, it‘s not about the money?  What is this message, and who‘s spreading it?  It‘s a pro football legend, Joe Ehrmann.  He joins me next.

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NORVILLE:  A pro sports legend makes it his mission to teach high school boys what it really means to be a man.  Legendary Joe Ehrmann joins me here next.

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DICK SCHAAP, SPORTSCASTER:  ... of the Baltimore Colts leads the league in getting personal with quarterbacks, and no one inflicts more damage than number 76, defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  That was sportscaster Dick Schaap reporting in 1976 about the Baltimore Colts‘ Joe Ehrmann.  Back then, Ehrmann was a hard-partying lineman.

But now the former all-American defensive tackle who helped lead the Colts to three straight division titles is an ordained minister and a volunteer coach for Baltimore‘s Gilman High School football team, and he is teaching his players a valuable lesson, that success has nothing to do with being a sports hero or making lots of money.

His story is told in the book called “Season of Life,” which Sports Illustrated called “tremendously touching.”  It is written by Pulitzer Prizewinner Jeffrey Marx, whose own story intersects with Joe‘s in some pretty amazing ways.

And we‘re joined now by Jeffrey Marx and Joe Ehrmann.

Jeff, this all started when you read that the State of Maryland was going to tear down the old Colts stadium and you had a lot of history there.

JEFFREY MARX, AUTHOR, “SEASON OF LIFE”:  Yes.  That was a very big blow to me because Memorial Stadium was like a childhood home away from home for me.

I was a ball boy with the Colts for many years starting when I was 11 years old, and Joe Ehrmann was one of the star players on that team.  He had a huge impact on my childhood, and I decided to make a farewell visit to that stadium and thought I was going to write a story about the stadium itself and some of those memories.

But what I found, as I was leaving, I thought more about the players and the coaches and everything I had learned from them, and I set off on a journey.  I wanted to find as many of those guys as I could and see what had happened with their lives, and that‘s how I found Joe.

NORVILLE:  And there were 200-and-some-odd some men over...

MARX:  Right.

NORVILLE:  ... the period of years that Memorial Stadium was in action.  Where was Joe on the list of folks to find?

MARX:  Well, of the—yes.  Of the 212 men, he was actually the 85th guy that I found, and it was clearly the most important call.  I hadn‘t called Joe for 18 years.  A lot of time had passed, and I was just hoping he‘d remember me, first of all.  And he did.  And we had a wonderful conversation.

The Joe that I found now, a minister in Baltimore, a pastor in a church with 4,000 members, a guy who had done so much in the community and also a high school football coach on the side, but only because it was a great context in which to implement his Building Men for Others Program.

NORVILLE:  And, Joe, when you got this call out of the blue from Jeffrey Marx—Jeffrey Marx, oh, yes, that was this kid who was a ball boy a million years ago—beyond that, did you have any recognition?

EHRMANN:  Oh, yes.  I remember him clearly.  I to this day remember he was an adorable 11-year-old boy, and, if I remember, I was just walking from practice to practice and stopped and started talking with this boy, and then he became an integral part of the life of the team.

NORVILLE:  And you invited him to come down, talk to you, see what was going on in your life.

EHRMANN:  Yes.

NORVILLE:  And, Jeff, when you got down there to practice, what did you see?

MARX:  I saw something unlike anything I‘d ever seen with any other sports program on any level—high school, college or professional—in the country.

I saw the first day of practice a coach standing before 100 boys on the high school football field yelling out, “What is our job?,” our job as the coaches, and the boys yelled back in unison, “To love us.”  “What is your job?” and the boys yell back, “To love each other.”

And I‘m left standing there thinking what in the world is going on here, is this football?  And it really intrigued me, and I wanted to learn more, and I ended up sticking around for an entire season.  I had no expectation of doing that.

NORVILLE:  Nothing about winning, nothing about kill the competition, none of that typical football stuff?

MARX:  And they‘re very successful on the field.  Three of the last six years they‘ve been undefeated and ranked number one in the State of Maryland.

But they‘re not all about points on the scoreboard.  They‘re all about things like empathy, inclusion, integrity, living a life of service to others.

That‘s what I saw unfold on the football at Gilman, and that‘s why I really wanted to write the “Season of Life” book.

NORVILLE:  And, Joe, for you to get to a point in life when you‘ve gone from 13 years as a professional athlete, an all-American at Syracuse when you were a college player, to a minister with a flock of 4,000, plus this high school team, there must have been some pretty monumental events in your life.  Tell me about the path you traveled.

EHRMANN:  Well, I think like most boys I was given all these lines about masculinity, and I thought that somehow if I could just get to the NFL, I would find meaning and purpose in my life.  I found nothing but futility and chaos in that lifestyle.

And, during the course of that, I watched my little brother die of cancer.  I spent five months on a pediatric oncology floor.  He died within five months during the course of a season.  It was standing at his funeral next to his casket, next to the open grave.  My teammates had come and the Buffalo Bills and hundreds for this 18-year-old kid.  I remember the last “amen” being said, and everybody turning and walking away.

Now I had acquired and achieved beyond my wildest expectations, but, at that moment, I realized I had no sense of what purpose in life is about, what is the meaning and value, because what I had given my life to brought me none of that.

NORVILLE:  And all this garbage about teamwork and players and we‘re there for you, in your darkest moment, they left you alone at the grave.

EHRMANN:  Well, it wasn‘t—they supported me as best they could, but the lifestyle and the whole cultural values about how do you find meaning as a man or a woman in this world, total futility and emptiness in that.

My life was the life of very narcissistic acquiring and achieving to validate my own insecurities about my manhood and relationships with my dad and a number of issues.

NORVILLE:  And yet your mantra today is “The only way to measure greatness is the impact on others‘ lives,” what you‘re now doing with these high school players, some of whom come from really affluent homes and others who take two buses to get to school every day.

EHRMANN:  Yes, yes.  Well, there are three basic lies that every boy is told and was told in my generation, and it‘s taught by dads to their sons today.  And the three lies are this, is that the first thing you learn in the playground of elementary school is that you can measure manhood based on athletic ability.

So that boy that can catch a down and out or hit the hanging curve, somehow he‘s seen as a little more valuable, a little more manly, if you will.  Those other boys are sent to the periphery of the playground, kind of deflated or demoted.

Then when you hit adolescence, you‘re taught in this country that masculinity can be measured in sexual conquest, the ability to bring women alongside of you and to use them to gratify your needs or to validate who and what you are.  That‘s a lie.

And then, later on in life, it has to do with economic success, that men—you can measure them by their power, position or possessions in a society.

All of those are lies and create all kinds of social chaos in this community.

NORVILLE:  And if those are the lies that boys have been taught growing up, you‘ve discovered what you think are the truths that can make them the fine men that they want to be.

We‘re going to take a short break.  When we come back, we‘re going to get into the nuts and bolts of Joe Ehrmann‘s philosophy and hear the specifics of a program that is now required reading in some pro football locker rooms around the country.  Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  We‘re back now talking with Jeffrey Marx.  His new book is called “Season of Life.”  It‘s an amazing story of how one man has helped transform the lives of young boys in Maryland, and the protagonist, I guess, is Joe Ehrmann, former football player for the Baltimore Colts and other teams.

Jeff, when you got down to the Gilman Greyhounds and saw what Joe was doing with these boys, it wasn‘t just we‘re there to love each other.  You saw a lot more not only on the field, but also around the school.

MARX:  Well, I saw so many things going on that happen in no other sports program and probably no other high school in America, and so Joe Ehrmann had done so much for so many for so long in the State of Maryland that he had almost become like a living, breathing state park.

And there I am standing there as a guy about to enter my 40s who had known him since I was 11 years old, and I thought what in the world do I do with this?

I‘m not the brightest guy in North America, but I am a writer and I figured, you know, this is a story I‘m supposed to tell.  I wanted to take this living, breathing state park and share him with America, because I thought the messages were that important.

NORVILLE:  And yet you went to Simon & Schuster, you had the book proposal like you‘re supposed to, and they said sorry, Charlie, don‘t think so.

MARX:  Right.

NORVILLE:  But that didn‘t stop you.

MARX:  No.  Well—and they weren‘t the only ones that passed.  There were a couple nibbles, but no bites, and the reality is I probably didn‘t write a very good book proposal.

I‘d like to think and I hope that the book turned out better than the book proposal, and I did decide to go ahead and self-publish it on my own, and we had a wonderful run for a year and a half with that.

And now new Simon & Schuster hardcover edition just came out in—the 1st of September.

NORVILLE:  And it is getting read in places that you don‘t necessarily expect to see guys holding books, and that‘s locker rooms.  Like the Dallas Cowboys are reading it.

Joe, it‘s page after page after page of message.  But if you had to boil down what you believe are the essential qualities of a fine man, what would they be?

EHRMANN:  Well, I think the only way you can measure success in life, success as a man comes down to two criteria, and I know this from my own personal experience, and I know this from my role as a pastor helping people die.

At the end of your life, when you‘re going to look back over whether you‘ve been successful, the first criteria is going to be in terms of relationships.  Did I love and did I allow people to love me?

And the measures of success are going to be what kind of husband was I, what kind of wife was I, what kind of mother, what kind of father, what kind of son, what kind of daughter.

NORVILLE:  And how can you teach that to boys on the football field?

EHRMANN:  Oh, we teach them that almost every single day.  It‘s all about relationships.  A team is nothing but a moral community that has shared expectations, and you have to learn how to be other-centered, find your well-being in the midst of a community.  It‘s a relational connectivity, is why you want to play these sports if you...

NORVILLE:  You scored the football goal, but I‘m so excited that you did, happy for you.

EHRMANN:  Exactly right.  And the blockers were just as important as everybody else, and everybody has a role.  So, if you ever wanted to create good moral citizens, it‘s in the concepts of team, because, in team, there‘s a spirituality which means that you have to transcend yourself.  It‘s not just about your goals, hopes and longings.  You find your wellbeing in the midst of the community.

NORVILLE:  And the other thing?

EHRMANN:  The other thing besides relationship is all of us ought to be able to look back over and know that we had some kind of cause in our life, a transcended cause, a cause that‘s bigger than your own personal goals, hopes, wants and longings and just going through this world to accumulate or to acquire.

It‘s knowing that wherever there was pain and injustice and suffering that you walked in with words of love and mercy, acceptance and spoke justice into all of the unfairness and the problems in this world.  You ought to be able to look back over and know the world was a better place because you lived and you loved and you made a difference.

NORVILLE:  And, Jeffrey, how are you different from having spent a year with this man, growing with the team and hearing that mantra as well?

MARX:  Well, the biggest thing for me, in addition to watching the boys grow, which was an incredible experience in itself, was my own personal growth in my relationship with my dad.

NORVILLE:  Really.

MARX:  My dad, a 70-year-old man—you don‘t teach an old dog new tricks, but in this case—and I‘m—don‘t mean to call my dad an old dog, by the way, but wonderful man.

I knew he always loved me.  He‘s always been a wonderful father.  But he was missing a bit of the emotional piece, the ability to express his emotions.  He has always been a stoic, his thermometer kind of stuck in the middle on the emotional scale.

And I took some of these messages to him at the end of the season because I knew that when I looked back on my life and I want to know with this relationship piece that I did everything I could with my father, with everyone in my life, but especially in this case with my father based on what I learned, and he had a wonderful response, and the last...

NORVILLE:  What did you do?  What did you say?

MARX:  Well, I went up Thanksgiving weekend, actually, of 2001, and he knew that I was working on this project and he knew I had something I wanted to talk to him about.

But it was a very difficult conversation to have, and I think it‘s one that has not only been inspiring to me and to my family, but to so many others now because they can take that and the way I wrote about it in the book, and now they‘re sharing that with their families and applying it to their own lives and their relationships, which is actually the most meaningful thing on a personal level that‘s come out of this whole project, is seeing people do that.

NORVILLE:  Sometimes “I love you,” three little words, very difficult to say.

MARX:  Little words, simple words, but incredibly powerful words, and especially when they come to you from the one man in your life who you love and respect more than any other, and that‘s, of course, my dad.

NORVILLE:  Just an example of how Joe Ehrmann is changing people.

And, when we come back, we‘re going to meet a young man who was once on his team.  Now he‘s playing football for Duke University.  And we‘ll hear how Joe Ehrmann changed his life.

So stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Back now talking with Joe Ehrmann and Jeffrey Marx. 

Jeffrey‘s new book is called “Season of Life.”

And also joining us from the campus of Duke University where he is a sophomore is Mike Dowling, a former student of Coach Joe‘s.

And we‘re glad to have you with us.  Thanks for being here.

MIKE DOWLING, FULLBACK, DUKE UNIVERSITY:  Thank you very much.

NORVILLE:  Tell me what impact being on Joe Ehrmann‘s football team in high school had on you, Mike.

DOWLING:  I think the biggest thing was—what it boils down to is learning how to have really meaningful relationships and interactions with everybody around you.  I think when I came into the program, I was probably a little bit self-centered and egocentric.

And, you know, at a time when you first start going into high school, playing high school athletics, the last thing you‘re really thinking about is how you can have a meaningful interaction with somebody else.

And I think Coach Ehrmann really put the emphasis on changing that perception of how we should act, and it‘s really had a huge impact for the better in the rest of my life.

NORVILLE:  That first time, when you had the first meeting and it‘s what‘s our job and to love us, what‘s your job, to—you know, did you look at the other players and kind of one eyebrow go up and go this is weird, I don‘t know about this.  I mean, there had to be a high level of skepticism.

DOWLING:  I think initially, maybe at the very onset of the whole thing, but, at the same time, I knew I really liked it because it was so different.  I mean, you have to appreciate that I was coming into a program that had had some success early on anyway, and so I was a little bit skeptical about how I would fit into that picture.

And so to have these coaches say our biggest job is to love you was really a welcoming kind of reassurance to me, you know, at the young age of 14.  It was definitely—it definitely made me feel like I had a place there, and I would be successful in what I would do, so...

NORVILLE:  Joe, do you think young boys—and, frankly, young girls, too, out there—are looking for someone to give them permission to rebel against this me, me, me culture that they seem to be confronted with every time they flip on the TV or they go into a store or whatever, that it‘s OK to actually be kind to someone else?

EHRMANN:  Yes, I think “permission”‘s the good word, but you think about our whole social construct and particularly boys.  We raise them to be independent, individual, accomplishment.  We raise them not to be relationally connected.

So all we do is say you have permission to use love and to hug and embrace and bring all of those emotions that have been woven in you, that get beaten out of you by the time you hit high school, and, once they are given that permission...

And it doesn‘t feminize boys.  You know, we go out—When the whistle blows, man, our kids go on out there and light it up, and they‘re as aggressive and as physical as any other team, but in the context of empathy and kindness and concern about your teammates and learning how to be part of a community.

NORVILLE:  And, Mike, how do you take that empathy off the field away from the team just in your daily life as a student at Duke where guys didn‘t necessarily have Coach Ehrmann in their lives coming in?

DOWLING:  Well, I think—I think those lessons that you learn on the football field, that you learn in the classroom, those are things that—you know, you can apply them to the rest of your life.

There isn‘t really—you know, it doesn‘t just end on the football field.  It‘s definitely had an impact on how I interact with the rest of my classmates and my teammates, you know, and it‘s—it‘s benefited me greatly because I don‘t have that kind of self-centered kind of egotism about it.

I just—I really don‘t think it ends in the athletic arena, and it didn‘t—it certainly didn‘t end for me at Gilman, and, you know, I‘m looking forward to it benefiting me for the rest of my life because it really has had a huge impact.

NORVILLE:  That‘s great.  Well, I know Coach is awfully proud of you, and we‘ll just brag a little bit about you.  I know you‘ve got the highest GPA of any player on the Duke football team?

DOWLING:  Oh, I don‘t like to ring my own bell there, but...

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  That‘s OK.  You didn‘t.  I rang it for you.  So all you can do is just say, yes, ma‘am, that‘s correct.

DOWLING:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  We‘re very proud of you.

And, finally, Jeff, Joe Ehrmann says that one of the most important things he thinks is to have a cause bigger than yourself.  Has that changed for you now, that life mission?

MARX:  Well, I‘ve had a cause.  I have a younger sister, Wendy, who, unfortunately, died because she needed a liver transplant, and there was no organ donor available.  So the cause of organ donor awareness for me has been huge in my life, and it always will be.  I want to encourage people on that note anytime I have the opportunity to do so.

Now I have a second cause, and that‘s working with Joe and reaching as many people as we can and taking the Mike Dowlings of this world and reaching as many of them and helping Joe impact the lives of others.

NORVILLE:  Joe, I know when you check out of this planet, you will—you‘ll know that you made a difference, right?

EHRMANN:  I hope.  I hope, yes.

NORVILLE:  Yes.  The book is called “Season of Life.”

Joe Ehrmann, Jeffrey Marx and Mike Dowling, thank you very much for being with us.

We love to hear from you, so send us your comments at norville@msnbc.com.  We‘ve got some of your e-mails posted on our Web page, norville.msnbc.com, also more information about the missing folks there.

That‘s our program for tonight.  I‘m Deborah Norville.  Thanks for watching.

Later this week, Katie Couric joins me with the story behind her new children‘s book and her passion in raising cancer awareness.  That‘s coming up on Thursday night.

And coming up next, it‘s time for “Scarborough Country.”

Thanks for watching.  We‘ll see you soon.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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