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Myles Bryant honoring late friend Charlie Ternan while raising awareness about fentanyl crisis with My Cause My Cleats

Through his platform with the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative, New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant will support Song For Charlie -- a non-profit started in memory of his late friend Charlie.

Myles Bryant. My Cause My Cleats. Song For Charlie

When Myles Bryant thinks about Charlie Ternan, one image of his late friend comes to mind.

They're all in college, busy with their own crazy schedules, but Ternan is posing for a picture at the Los Angeles Coliseum in a David Long Jr. jersey, supporting their mutual high school friend in Long's first year with the Rams. Ternan always showed up for his friends, also traveling to watch Bryant play for Washington whenever he was playing in the Bay Area or for a Pac-12 Championship.

"It spoke to the kind of guy he was," Bryant said of Ternan, who died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020. "Always loving and supporting his friends."

Now, through his platform with the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative, it's the New England Patriots cornerback supporting Ternan. Bryant's custom cleats will honor his childhood friend and Song For Charlie – the non-profit started in his memory.

"I'm just trying to raise awareness and also bring light to Charlie. He was a really loving guy, compassionate, kind. Everybody in our friend group loved him, so I'm just trying to honor him and bring light to this epidemic."

The two went back all the way to middle school. They bonded through football and lacrosse and both attended Loyola High School in Los Angeles for four years together. Ternan hurt his back and didn't play football their senior year, but the two remained friends as he attended Santa Clara University and Bryant joined the Washington Huskies.

"I was playing college football doing my best to try and maintain those relationships, trying to see everybody I could with the schedule we had, and whenever I was home or on break I would see him and all my other friends," Bryant said. "He was just a big supporter of mine."

The two also bonded over movies, and Bryant reminisced on how the two could sit back and talk for hours about them.

"Our bond over that was pretty special," Bryant said

Around the time Bryant was declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, Ternan was on the search for his first job, weeks away from his graduation at Santa Clara. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was a few months underway. Bryant signed as an undrafted free agent on May 5, 2020, but aside from that, the rest of the world was on pause aside from remote meetings.

Nine days later, on May 14, Ternan was preparing for a job interview and wanted to alleviate some flaring back pain. Ternan and a friend had sourced some Xanax on Snapchat and saw the dealer had Percocet as well. 

What Ternan received was a fake, blue M-30 laced with fentanyl. He was said to be home alone when he took it around 3 p.m. and passed away within the hour.

"He ended up having back surgery and I think some of the pain still lingered on," Bryant recalled. 

"He thought he was taking a Percocet but it was actually a fentanyl pill that ended up killing him. It was tough."

Bryant and his high school friends were shocked by the tragic news, but similar stories have unfortunately become all too common.

Over the last decade, illicit fentanyl has increasingly infiltrated the illegal drug supply, leading to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths across the United States. Because fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, a lethal dose can be incredibly small and unexpected, and those deaths skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic.

Ternan's parents, Ed and Mary, felt compelled to do something about this widespread epidemic after the sudden loss of their son.

They created Song For Charlie, a national non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about fake pills, highlighting the dangers of self-medication and casual drug use in the fentanyl era, and encouraging healthier strategies for coping with stress.

The organization's slogan, "Real Talk About Fake Pills," will be written in black across the customized yellow cleats that Bryant wears in Week 13 against the L.A. Chargers.

"In Charlie's case, he was trying to manage pain, but a lot of people are doing drugs to manage stress too. With his parents starting Song For Charlie, they've implemented programs to help cope with stress in different ways, whether it's finding new hobbies, reading, meditating – whatever it is. That's a big component of that organization. Now only bringing awareness to fentanyl, because it's a big epidemic, but also finding a doable solution for people to avoid and navigate that."

Learn more about Song For Charlie here.

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