Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis this Sunday will be under a set of circumstances that most people will never be able to fully understand. One of the few that may be able to empathize is the greatest hockey player in history, Wayne Gretzky, who was traded to the LA Kings after his monumental success in Edmonton with the Oilers. Gretzky and Manning both followed very similar paths to stardom. They both grew and made a name for themselves with organizations that seemed to be symbiotically involved with the players. Both organization and athlete depending on one another, until in both cases the ties were severed by the organization.
“Let me tell you something, Peyton won’t sleep much this week because of the emotions and excitement that he’s probably feeling,” Gretzky told The Times by phone. “I can’t speak for him, but I know what I went through. It’s pretty emotional. I spent a lot of years there, like he did, and you become almost friends with the city.”…
“I know [returning to Edmonton] was a really hard day for me because in one sense I was looking forward to playing again in Edmonton, and in another sense I knew eventually they would start treating me as the enemy.”-LATimes.com
It is certainly a tough situation for Manning as Gretzky pointed out. On one hand Indianapolis is the place where Manning was drafted, where he grew in to arguably the greatest QB in the league, and where he put in the work to become a Super Bowl Champion. On the other hand Indianapolis is still the opponent, and still trying to hand the Bronco’s their first loss of the season. It will be a truly emotional event for Manning, but being the consummate professional that he is I’m sure he won’t show on the surface the emotional distress that he is sure to feel when he returns.