Leidos teams up with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens to tackle opioid addiction
Starting this fall, Sundays in Baltimore will be even more purple. Leidos has teamed up with the two-time Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, our first NFL partner, to address the opioid public health crisis. The initiative, which will launch during tonight’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, is all about benefiting Greater Baltimore, where Leidos is one of the largest employers, and helping the state of Maryland, which is home to nearly 7,000 Leidos employees.
The major theme for the season is “Tackling Opioid Addiction.” To understand why, it’s important to know how hard the opioid crisis has gripped the Free State. Maryland has the seventh-highest drug overdose mortality rate nationally behind West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Delaware. Charm City itself is a hard-hit area. According to the Baltimore City Health Department, more than 90 percent of drug and alcohol-related deaths in the city are opioid-related. These numbers are important to Leidos because of its strong ties to the state. Roughly 20 percent of our 33,000 employees call Maryland home, more than any other state except Virginia where the company is headquartered.
How does Leidos plan to help? For every tackle made by a Ravens defender, Leidos will donate $50 toward the purchase of drug disposal packets for Baltimore-area nonprofits to distribute in the community. For every interception and every fumble, we’ll donate $1,000. We’ll air public service announcements featuring safety Tony Jefferson, who recorded 74 tackles last season, and organize community events when opportunities arise. “This is about creating safer and healthier communities for our people,” said Roger Krone, Leidos CEO and Chairman. “We’re investing in Maryland because our employees, customers, and their families here need our help.”
It started when Ravens President Dick Cass reached out to Krone to pledge his support to fight opioid addiction. Mr. Cass is now one of more than 70 CEOs to sign the pledge. “The opioid epidemic has plagued our nation,” his email read, “and especially the region that we call home. We see the effects of it in our own backyard. We would like to offer our support for your efforts.”
Since 2017 Leidos has placed a strong emphasis on Maryland in our ongoing opioid campaign. For example, in an impressive logistical feat, Maryland National Guard trucks distributed roughly 100,000 drug disposal packets, purchased by Leidos, from a distribution point at the Aberdeen Proving Ground to first responders and community organizations throughout the state. We’re proud of Roxanne Wood in particular, a Montgomery County resident and Leidos employee who lost her son to heroin nearly four years ago. She now leads a group of mothers battling on the front lines of this crisis.
According to William Simpson, president of DisposeRx, 70 percent of drug addiction starts in the medicine cabinet. In previous seasons you might remember former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s public service announcements promoting DEA Take Back Day. We'll continue to educate the Ravens community that making a difference is as easy as cleaning out your medicine cabinet. Unused pills, if not stored or disposed of properly, can unintentionally fall into the wrong hands. They’re also a threat to the environment, and measurable amounts of flushed chemicals have been found in Maryland lakes and rivers. Every pill discarded properly is a pill that cannot poison the state of Maryland.
Nationally, the topic of addiction is uncomfortable, stigmatized, and often overlooked as a charitable cause, but prevention efforts are needed now more than ever. Drug overdose claims roughly 190 American lives every day, making it more deadly than gun violence and automobile accidents. Drug overdose is also the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
We’ll continue with the “Tackling Opioid Initiative” throughout the season, but the partnership has other areas of focus as well. In October, we’ll be active in the NFL’s Crucial Catch cancer awareness program, designed to promote early detection. In November, we’ll proudly support the league’s Salute to Service campaign, designed to provide for U.S. service members and their families. “In a perfect world, other NFL teams will catch onto what we’re doing with the Tackling Opioid Addiction campaign,” Krone said. “If this campaign becomes on par with Crucial Catch and Salute to Service, we could be a huge catalyst for change.”
As part of our sports marketing franchise, Leidos also sponsors community initiatives with the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, and D.C. United. The Ravens are the first major league relationship for Leidos outside of Washington. Marylanders grappling with a substance abuse disorder can find help here or by calling 1-800-422-0009, the state crisis hotline. You can read more of our reporting on the opioid crisis here.