In the wake of last year's domestic abuse charges against Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, the National Football League is (finally) taking a stand in a big way. In collaboration with the organization No More, the NFL has produced a 30-second spot slated to air this Sunday during the Super Bowl — and it's a powerful one. The commercial was created by affiliate agency Grey, with the league itself donating its own ad time to air the anti-domestic violence PSA.
The PSA features a recreated conversation between a 911 operator and a domestic abuse victim who has called in pretending to order a pizza.
Woman: "I'd like to order a pizza for delivery."
Operator: "Ma'am, you've reached 911 — this is an emergency line."
Woman: "Ah... yeah, a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom."
After few brief moments of confusion, the operator seems to catch on.
Operator: "Okay ma'am... is everything okay over there? Is there an emergency or not?"
Operator: "Okay, and you're unable to talk because —"
Woman: "Right. Right."
Operator: "Is there someone in the room with you? Just say yes or no."
The operator then tells the woman there is an officer in her area who will be dispatched to her location immediately.
The conversation in the video is a re-enactment of a real scenario that was posted on a Reddit thread by former police dispatcher Keith Weisinger, who wrote in the thread that upon checking the history of the address the victim had provided, he noted "multiple previous domestic violence calls." In an interview, Weisinger told BuzzFeed News that he never found out what happened to the woman after hanging up with her.
After a string of ugly domestic violence and, in the case of Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson, child abuse accusations, the NFL certainly has a lot of damage to undo. Accusations of mishandling and insensitivity to women continued to pepper the headlines long after official press conferences had closed, and the release of the Ray Rice video in September didn't help quell the fire either. After security camera footage of Rice knocking his fiancee out cold in a hotel elevator was leaked by TMZ, the NFL put on the greatest back-pedal show yet.
In a statement to the press on July 24, 2014, the NFL announced that they would be suspending Rice for two games (yes, you read that correctly), adding that Commissioner Roger Goodell had personally sat down with Rice and then-fiancee Janay Palmer to give him the disciplinary equivalent of a slap on the wrist (the Baltimore Ravens later terminated Rice's contract). Several players were rightly outraged, some taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations:
If there's anything that the League needs to makeover, it's the seemingly dumbfounded PR team that continues to make costly mistake after costly mistake. Even Sen. John McCain got in on the action recently, telling USA Today Sports in an interview Tuesday, "If I were them, I would review my whole PR scheme."
When politicians feel the need to weigh in on sports commentary, things have definitely gone from bad to worse. And with the #Deflategate debacle still far from over, the NFL needs this PSA to revamp their image and avert a potential public meltdown. Although one video doesn't redeem them of their crimes, with an estimated Super Bowl audience of more than 100 million viewers tuning in, perhaps it's the first step in the right direction down the long road to redemption.
Images: YouTube screengrab; Getty Images (1)