The roar of the Jets' home crowd is something few players ever forget, regardless of what they do once their playing days are over.
No. 87, Laveranues Coles, wide receiver, said he will never forget the noise.
"There's nothing in life that feels that way," Coles, 44, told senior reporter Eric Allen on an edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "When you're playing you don't hear anything, when the ball is in the air, you don't see anything but the football. But you don't really get the opportunity to enjoy the moment until the whistle. You hear the noise creeping in. There's something about it you can never get anywhere else, hearing fans scream for you after a play."
Coles should know and know well. He played 10 seasons in the NFL, seven with the Green & White, two in Washington and his final campaign with Cincinnati in 2009. Drafted in 2000 by Jets GM Bill Parcells, Coles was sometimes called the Fifth Ace in a haul of players that included four first-round picks (in order, Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington and Anthony Becht).
Taken in the third round out of Florida State, Coles is still rankled that "17 guys," wide receivers, were taken before the Jets grabbed him in the third round.
"We had a great draft class and I'm thankful the Jets gave me a chance," Coles said. "I sent a note to Coach Parcells [who moved from coaching to become the GM after the 2000 season, and who also celebrated his 81st birthday on Aug. 22] a few days ago just thanking him for allowing me to be part of that draft class. Those guys played between them for almost 50 years and all had successful careers.
"I was a flower on the wall. No one knew about me coming out of college. We had 12-13 rookies make that team, but we still had a veteran team with Vinny [Testaverde], [Curtis] Martin, Marvin Jones, Aaron Glenn. To be remembered with that class is fantastic. I thanked Coach Parcells for taking a chance on me. I was not on anyone else's board and for them to give me a chance in the third round, to this day, him giving me a chance means the world to me."
In his Jets career, Coles played in 105 games, caught 459 passes for 5,941 (12.9 yards a catch), and 49 TDs. He also ran 22 times for 185 yards. In his rookie season, he also saw time on special teams, making 5 solo tackles, proving himself eager to help his team any way he could.
Coles was still wet behind the ears on Oct. 23, 2000, when the Jets pulled off "The Monday Night Miracle" against Miami, scoring 30 fourth-quarter points to send the game to overtime before winning, 40-37.
"I was young, and on the sideline, I kept saying to the guys that 'we can win this, we can win this,' " Coles said. "I didn't know any better. I didn't know you weren't supposed to come back and win a football game. A lot of people left, a lot turned off their TVs. I remember going to my breakfast place the next morning to get the guys their bagels and the guy in front of me had the paper and said 'I can't believe it.' I told him, 'yeah we came back and won.' "
He said that he sees a lot of that youthful belief in the Jets' "young veterans" and current crop of impressive draft picks -- from Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner ("he's got the Sauce," Coles said) to RB Breece Hall. Specifically, he said he was impressed on his visit to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center with what he's seen from second-year WR Elijah Moore and rookie Garrett Wilson.
"They don't look like fish out of water," he said. "They know what's going on. So, to me they've already taken the giant steps to be players, and be great players. These guys have nothing but greatness ahead of them."
Coles was drafted in the same year as Pennington and he said that as the newbies on the Green & White, the young QB and the young WR were able to form a relationship based on trust, and mentioned an example of that relationship when speaking about the development of Zach Wilson, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury.
"I would say the trust factor is the most important thing and getting the little things right," Coles said. "I worked with Chad every day and he'd tell me to try this and try that. Chad would tell me: 'When you get to your spot, I'm going to throw it where I want you to turn. I'm going to protect you, I don't want a defender blowing you up.' The guy has to have your best interest at heart and protect you. That chemistry and trust creates something special and once you get that going and he [Wilson] gets talking to them with that football, it's going to be hard to stop."
On his first visit to 1 Jets Drive, Coles said he was struck by the comparison to where he trained with the team in his early years at Hofstra University on Long Island, the Jets' long-time training base, before moving to Florham Park.
"I get this feeling of greatness, seeing this magnificent building Mr. Johnson has put together for these guys, the atmosphere is exhilarating," Coles said.
On head coach Robert Saleh, Coles said: "I love his energy, just how he commands the field and guys, how he interacts with people. I can tell he'd be a guy I'd want to run through a wall for, and that is all you can ask for from your coach. He's won over his guys, and they'll go out and give 110 percent for him on Sunday and they're going to win a lot of football games."
We'll save one of Coles' best anecdotes for last. In April 2000, the Jets traded Keyshawn Johnson to Tampa Bay. Though few expected Coles to fill his shoes, that was the unspoken expectation -- at least for a guy named Laveranues Coles. "In my mind I was there to replace Keyshawn," he said.
In Week 4 the Jets traveled to Florida to face Johnson and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Johnson took several of his former teammates out to dinner, and they took along that rookie "replacement," Coles.
"Keyshawn took everyone out to dinner and my guys told me how they felt about me," Coles said. "So, Richie Anderson takes me over to meet him and says to him, 'this is the guy we got to replace you.' He took out his [exclusive] black card and said, 'Until you get one of these you can't replace me.' It was Keyshawn being Keyshawn. It just motivated me. The key thing was that my guys felt highly enough about me to go tell Keyshawn to his face."