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Cotchery has score to settle with Chargers' Rivers

The Jets' Jerricho Cotchery was a high school

The Jets' Jerricho Cotchery was a high school adversary and college teammate of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Credit: AP

Jerricho Cotchery has been waiting nearly a decade for payback. On Sunday, he plans to get it.

In the fall of 2000, his high school football team played Athens in the Alabama state playoffs. Athens won that game, led by a quarterback and safety named Philip Rivers. Now, almost 10 years later and five years removed from their record-setting relationship at North Carolina State, Cotchery believes he is owed.

"I still remember that and I'm pretty sure he still remembers that as well," Cotchery said Monday. "He knocked me out of the playoffs, so I'm looking for a little get-back from him."

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The high school rivals bonded at N.C. State, where Rivers totaled 13,484 passing yards and 95 touchdown passes. Cotchery, who broke most of Torry Holt's school records, caught 21 TD passes from Rivers. The connection they shared wasn't just on the field, though. They have remained close friends.

"Me and Phil still talk on a regular basis," Cotchery said. "I spoke with him [Sunday]. He just congratulated me on the win against Cincinnati and was just joking with me a little bit, saying, 'Hey, it looked like I saw some of those plays before.' "

Rivers, Cotchery said, was referring to some of the plays they ran together in Raleigh.

"We're very familiar with each other," Cotchery said. "The chemistry we were able to have at N.C. State was unbelievable.''

Cotchery said it was easy to get in sync with Rivers because he is such a diligent worker. He said Rivers spoke to him in the past about Vincent Jackson, the Chargers' top receiver.

"You can see some of that same stuff with Vincent Jackson and those guys on the same page," he said. "You can tell the way they're operating out there, those guys are doing some special things this year. It doesn't take long with him because of the way he prepares."

Cotchery has played with a number of quarterbacks since Rivers, but it was his first true QB-receiver bond. Does it hurt just a little to see Rivers having that same relationship with Jackson? Is it like seeing an ex-girlfriend happily married? Is he . . . jealous?

Cotchery laughed. "No, not at all," he said. "I'm happy for those guys. I'm just trying to develop that same chemistry with my quarterback again so we can do some of the same things."

And maybe avenge that loss to Athens.

"That was the last game of my [high school] career in football, so that still hurts a little bit," Cotchery said. "I'm trying to get some payback this time around."

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