Admittedly making a mistake which led to an arrest and being suspended from the Florida State football team, Laveranues Coles was not seen in the best light by some leading up to the 2000 NFL Draft.
"It was a rough time during that," Coles said. "My agent had explained to me that it was during that time when Ray Carruth and Ray Lewis (each faced murder charges) and people were questioning drafting guys with questionable character backgrounds. I figured I fit into that category at that time with what was going on."
The Jets selected the wide receiver in the third round.
"I was thankful because I had no clue where I would be going that day," Coles said. "The Jets were the only team that really spent some extensive time with me. Dan Henning was the offensive coordinator, and I ended up meeting with him at an Olive Garden, spending quite a bit of time with him.
"So I was excited, but at the same time mad because I believe I was the 16th or 17th receiver taken. I felt like a lot of those guys wasn't as talented as I was or had greater potential at the next level. But, hey, it worked out for me."
It did, thanks in large part to having general manager Bill Parcells in his corner.
"It meant a lot. I heard about how the story went down before they drafted me," Coles said. "(Wide receivers coach) Todd Haley said he didn't want to coach me. (Head coach) Al Groh said he didn't want to coach me. And Parcells basically slammed the table and said, 'Well, it ain't your decision, it's mine. Take the kid.' Then he looked over at Steve Yarnell, who was the head of security and did a background check on me and said, 'If he screws up, it's on you.'"
Grouped with the addition of four first-round picks – Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, and Anthony Becht – the spotlight wouldn't have seemed to be shining on the rookie. But the subtraction of the team's leading receiver over the past three seasons, changed that.
"I actually was still thrusted into the limelight a bit because you're coming off of a year where Keyshawn Johnson had just departed (via a trade to Tampa Bay). Everybody was wondering who's going to replace Keyshawn," Coles said. "And it was funny, one of the main things that they said to me when they drafted me was, 'Let me tell you something before the media calls you. You're not here to replace Keyshawn. Let them know you're going to play special teams and help the team out the best you can.' But in the back of my mind, I'm like, 'Man, I'm replacing him. I'm coming in to play wideout.'"
A knee injury during his first season put that on hold. However, the following year was a new start. And Coles earned his way to becoming a first-team wide receiver.
"My second year, I got in and played decently. I think I had 700-something  yards that season. That's when Herm Edwards came in (as the new head coach) and was like, 'I'm going to give you a chance. If you're going to play for me, I'm going to give you a fair shot.' And that's all you can ask for as a ballplayer," Coles said.
"When Herm told me he was going to give me a shot, I knew I could turn the corner. When you know you basically don't have a chance, they really don't want you there, don't want to give you a chance to get better, don't even want to coach you to get better, than you're fighting an uphill battle.
"And I have to give credit to the fact that we had Curtis Martin in the backfield because we got a lot of eight-man boxes (on defense). People paid a lot of attention to him. That's why he's got a (Hall of Fame) gold jacket now. But I guess the main thing, just to be able to contribute and be out there with the guys like Wayne Chrebet, Santana Moss, it was fun. I enjoyed playing the game so much with the guys we had, especially in our receiving corps room."
Named as the team's Most Valuable Player, now called the Curtis Martin Jets MVP Award, in 2006, Coles was with the Jets for seven of his 10 years in the NFL.
Fourth all-time in the team's history with 494 receptions, fifth all-time with 5,941 yards, and fifth all-time with 37 touchdown catches, what makes Coles most proud of his career?
"I would say the fact that people from New York still give me love like I still play," he said. "I was just at the Draft, and the fans still recognize me, are still excited to see me like I still played. So that's the best thing, that I haven't been forgotten. It really means the world to me."
Coles represented the Jets well at the recent NFL Draft in Cleveland when he announced their second-round selection – "future Pro Bowler" Elijah Moore.
"That was ad-libbed," Coles laughed. "I believe in the power of the tongue. I wanted to speak it into existence for him because here's a kid I had probably had never seen film on, and here he is being the second pick of the second round.
"He must have a lot of talent. And I know they're getting a weapon for that new quarterback. I'm sure he's going to get a ton of opportunities, so hopefully he can have a couple Pro Bowls under his belt."
"And for the organization to give me the opportunity to represent them, it means the world because they have tons of players to choose from. And the fact that they were willing to give me an opportunity to go up there and represent them at such a meaningful Draft for the organization, I just can't say how much it means."
The proud father of four: Trillion, a running back at the University of Central Florida; Landon, the Student Government President at the University of Miami; Taylor, a student at Bethune-Cookman University; and four-year-old Zya; Coles is enjoying retirement and makes his home in Jacksonville, Florida.