Laveranues at the Movies

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Film, tape, digital. Over the years football players by necessity have become aficionados of the visual medium, mostly of moving images of other football players.

But Laveranues Coles has taken video to a whole different level.

"I love movies, man," the Jets' veteran wide receiver said recently. "Every Tuesday, I'll go get DVDs, all the new releases. I like watching all the latest movies that come out."

But lots of people are movie buffs. How serious is Coles' interest in the cinema?

"How many DVDs do I have? Whooo!" he exhaled. "I couldn't even give you a number. I'd guesstimate over 2,000."

Two grand — yeah, that's a serious film buff.

The discs are split between Coles' New York and Jacksonville residences. He has them stacked high on shelves, by theme and purchase date, in the library of his Long Island home. More than 400 are recorded on a DVD hard drive. He can punch up a stored flick or pop in a new disc and play it for viewing on several screens around his pad.

And what genre appeals most to Coles? No surprise: L.C. is an "action" man.

"I'm not big on drama," he said. "If it's the latest movies that are the large titles, I'll watch them. If it's something I haven't even heard of, I probably won't pick it up if it's drama. But if I see 'AC' on it, I'm picking it up."

Coles won't even wait for a release to make it to DVD. He's all over "Spider-Man 3" in the theaters just as he has been since "300," about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., came out last year.

"I can't wait for '300' to come out so I can continue to watch it," he said. "It's just one of the best movies I've ever seen."

Besides action, Coles has been known to watch dance movies ("Bring It On"), comedy (Cat Williams standup, Will Ferrell movies) and animation ("Happy Feet").

His cinematic roots, he said, are in his Jacksonville upbringing.

"Back in high school, I really didn't want to go outside and do much. I played sports, came home and watched movies," he said. " 'The Wizard of Oz' was a great movie — no matter when it came on, I watched it. My granddaddy was into a lot of Westerns and [pro] wrestling. I got away from wrestling once I found out it wasn't real."

Just after heading to Florida State, he said he watched the Disney production "The Lion King" almost every day.

"I still watch it. It has a lot of good little punchlines," he said. "And you talk about what [Prince Simba] goes through as a child, which kind of reminds me of what I went through on a different level. Eventually he finds his way back home and becomes the king he's supposed to be."

Six years after "The Lion King" came out, another film was released in 2000, around when Coles was drafted by the Jets, that also regally resonates with him.

"Favorite movie? I'd have to choose 'Gladiator'," he said. "That movie's something I always compare my life to and everything I'm going through. There's a guy who went from a general leading the Roman army to becoming a slave, and still from that position he pretty much became just as powerful as a king. That basically says you don't have to have the title of 'the man' for you to be 'the man.' "

Coles has been one of the men to stand out as NFL wideouts in his seven pro campaigns. His toughness is legendary, his ability to move the chains among the most consistent in the league.

Besides his own skills, he's benefited from his affiliation with Chad Pennington, which seems to have lasted longer than the 34 games and three seasons the pair have been together as Jets starters. Last season Coles caught a career-high 91 receptions, sixth-most in the league, all delivered by Pennington.

After the long, tough season, Coles talked about recharging his batteries, in part by joining his quarterback on a cruise. The vacation still hasn't been scheduled.

"We have good intentions on going. We both have our families. We both truly care about each other outside of football," he said. "It might have to be after we're done playing ball."

Coles segued to his own career. He's not announcing his retirement, but he knows he's closer to it than to his rookie season. To illustrate the point, he nodded toward a DVD on a desk, not a movie but a highlight disc of another Green & White contemporary, tailback Curtis Martin.

"I don't want to say Curtis' career ended abruptly, but it kind of did," he said. "One day he's here, then all of a sudden y'all look up for him and he's not there. It puts things in perspective for me. Now I need to focus on what I'm going to do after I'm done playing football.

"I truly haven't set any major goals in my career. The only thing I try to do is be productive and help the team be productive. The main thing is making sure I'm there for my teammates and keep things as light as possible around here, that's the most important thing."

My guess is that when Coles heads into the sunset, it will be like Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider" and not like Gene Hackman in "Unforgiven." And I'll predict that his and Chad's final scenes, when they finally are shot, will not resemble "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in Bolivia. Even if it's just for opposing defensive coordinators, L.C. has more video magic left to perform.

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