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Laveranues Coles Made the Jets Look Smart for Taking a Chance on Him

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As we approach the season, we are going to count down the history of Jets jersey numbers along with some of the notable players to wear each number. Today we will look at number 87.

Many remember the four first round picks the Jets had in the 2000 NFL Draft. It is easy to forget the team's third round pick that year was a major success story as well. Drafting Laveranues Coles was something of a gamble at the time. He had been dismissed from the Florida State football team after a scandal that saw him and teammate Peter Warrick receiving shoes at heavily discounted prices. Coles was charged for theft in the incident.

The Jets had some trepidation in their Draft room, but Coles had somebody vouch for him. Rich Cimini wrote a great article a few years back telling the tale.

Laveranues Coles was bad news coming out of Florida State in 2000, so talented but so risky because of a rap sheet that frightened NFL teams. Steve Yarnell was the New York Jets' security director -- still is -- and he performed the background check on Coles.

...

It sparked a legendary draft-room exchange between Parcells and Yarnell, who once played under Parcells -- a former Army assistant coach -- at West Point. The room got loud. The language turned salty. Parcells wanted -- no, demanded -- to know if Coles was worth it. Would he embarrass the organization by getting into trouble?

Parcells interrogated the interrogator, prompting an animated rebuttal from the usually stoic Yarnell. Jaws dropped.

Coles' breakout season came in his third campaign. Developing great chemistry with Chad Pennington, he registered 89 catches and 1,264 yards as the Jets won the AFC East title. In tandem with Santana Moss and Wayne Chrebet, the Jets' diminutive receiving corps was tagged with the nickname Six Feet Under.

Just that quickly, Coles was gone. In a blunder, Terry Bradway did not offer Coles, then a restricted free agent, a contract that would have netted the Jets a first AND a third round Draft pick if he left for another team. Such a steep pricetag surely would have scared every other suitor off. Instead, Washington grabbed Coles. The Jets were left with a first round pick in return, which they packaged for Dewayne Robertson.

Two years later, he was back. Coles was unhappy in Washington, and the Jets worked out a trade involving Moss to return number 87 home. His second stint in New York lasted four years with another 1,000 yard campaign in 2006. Finally after 2008, Coles was unhappy with his contract. He and the team mutually agreed to part ways.

He spent one year with the Bengals before coming back to training camp with the Jets in 2010. After failing to make the roster, the team symbolically signed him a fourth time before a game against New England after Jim Leonhard suffered a serious late season injury.

He never played in the NFL again.

Other notable players to wear 87 for the Jets include Pete Lammons, Chris Burkett, and Eric Decker.