Amid the comical multi-million dollar commercials that will be played during the Super Bowl tonight, the National Football League is sponsoring a public service ad to raise awareness about domestic violence.
The plot of the 60-second commercial — a woman pretending to order pizza as a plea for help — stems from one local man’s experience as a 911 operator.
A decade ago, Keith Weisinger worked the graveyard shift in a Boulder, Co. 911 center. He remembers the night a woman called and ordered a pizza, repeatedly asking how long it would take for the delivery.
Weisinger, who grew up in East Cobb County and moved to Colorado for college, said he was at first befuddled by the unusual request. He could tell the woman wasn’t a pranking teenager, but didn’t immediately understand the nature of her call.
He pressed, asking if she understood that she dialed 911 and if she had an emergency.
“She said yes, and it clicked,” he said.
Weisinger, now an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who lives in Decatur, recounted that story on a Reddit.com post last year.
After several months — and amid raging controversy involving NFL players and high-profile domestic violence cases — Buzzfeed.com, and then other news outlets, picked up the story.
The NFL is working to rebuild its image over public outcry regarding its handling of abuse incidents involving players.
The league was lambasted last year for what many say was an inadequate response to Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiance.
It was only after a video emerged that showed Rice knocking out his partner did the team terminate his contract and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indefinitely suspend the player. The NFL also launched a “No More” campaign to raise awareness about domestic abuse.
Rice has since won an appeal against his suspension.
Weisinger is still incredulous that his story about the woman’s quick thinking will be featured during the most highly watched television night in America.
He initially shared the story while riding MARTA, typing on his phone, he said. He never imagined it would become part of a movement to end domestic violence.
“I’ve never been somebody who wanted notoriety, but I’m glad it’s going to something good,” he said. “I’d love for people to understand what distances others have to go to get help.”
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