BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of former NFL players is stepping in to help areas hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the Inspire Change initiative, the NFL and the Players Coalition are giving more than $3 million to organizations in seven U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit.

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Among the members of the group is former Ravens wide receiver and two-time Super Bowl champion Torrey Smith.

“We’re starting to see communities of color are being impacted the most,” he said.

On Instagram Live Monday, Smith spoke with Dr. Susan Mani of LifeBridge Health. In the video, he said $350,000 would go to the hospital as well as the Franciscan Center, the Maryland Food Bank and the Baltimore County Foundation, groups that are helping communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by the virus.


“You want people to practice social distancing, but what if you stay in an apartment complex in the projects (with) people kind of piled up around each other or you have to take the bus?” Smith said.

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The money will be used to bring better access to testing, meals for senior citizens and families in need, education efforts and efforts to address the digital divide.

The pandemic is highlighting the socioeconomic disparities in health care, Mani said.

“We have to be able to bring care into the communities, you know, that is the biggest challenge we’re seeing,” she said.

Smith said he hopes the effort will inspire change even after the pandemic is over.

“These are real issues in those community and I think it’s on all of us to make sure we’re doing our part to help them out not just in COVID but beyond,” he said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner