It was Coles who took him under his wing during Coles' second stint with the Jets in 2005, working out and running routes with the inexperienced receiver in the offseason.
"He went out of his way to coach me up," Cotchery said. "So out of all the stuff everybody else may say, that's the only thing I can remember. I can remember him working hard every day. And I can remember him laying it on the line every Sunday for the New York Jets."
But now Cotchery's former mentor has become the enemy for a night. Coles, now a wide receiver for the Bengals, could help Cincinnati play spoiler and knock the Jets out of playoff contention by beating them Sunday night.
The Jets released Coles - their third-round draft pick in 2000 - last February. By then, the organization appeared to have little faith in his playmaking ability, but Coles, who turned 32 Tuesday, made an immediate impact on his new teammates. "I really have a more aggressive style of play by trying to be more like him," Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco said of Coles, whom he affectionately nicknamed "The Sizzle Man."
He added: "He's fought through injuries all year long and hasn't missed any time, so he's been a great addition to this offense."
Coles has only 40 receptions, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the veteran's leadership has been just as important as his on-the-field contributions. "He's really brought maturity to our receiver room, a sense of professionalism," Lewis said earlier this week. "He's one of the guys who the quarterback knows is going to be in the right spot every time."
The Jets, however, hope Coles won't be able to team with quarterback Carson Palmer to do too much damage. "I know Laveranues; he probably wants revenge," cornerback Darrelle Revis said with a laugh. "He's a competitor, so I think he just wants a big game on Sunday. He's going to try to do anything within those 60 minutes to beat us."
Coles also schooled Revis during his first two years with the team. "He taught me a lot of stuff that the great receivers do, which usually doesn't happen," Revis said. "A receiver is not going to tell you secrets and things, but I thank him for giving me that information."
It's odd that Coles, a fan and media favorite for most of his time with the Jets, potentially could stand in the way of a postseason berth for his old team.
Said Cotchery: "Even though he's with a different team, he bleeds green. He's a New York Jet, man. I can't see him no other way. He represented this organization very well and I think he wanted to finish his career here. I know he would definitely want to play well this weekend."