Wayne Gretzky the best hockey player ever to play wanted to let Peyton Manning know that he understands what it feels like to go back to a place you love.
“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. Indianapolis is similar to Edmonton in that it’s not New York or Los Angeles,” said Gretzky, 52, considered by many to be the greatest hockey player ever. So you’re at the stadium, and the places you go to eat, and the people you meet in the community are the people who are in those seats. So they become friends. They’re not just fans, they become more like friends. So it becomes very emotional. I know that 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.”
Gretzky was traded to the Kings after 10 seasons. Manning was cut loose by the Colts after 14 years.
“We both left on pretty good terms,” Gretzky said. “It wasn’t like we sort of ran out the door or left on bad terms. In that sense it’s very similar in that he’s going back to an environment where every fan in that stadium absolutely idolized him and admired and respected him, not only for what he did for the team but for the city. I think for the fans this is an opportunity to get to see him play one more time, although it will be in a different uniform, but they get to pay their respects maybe one last time with him playing a game in Indianapolis. So from that point of view it will probably be very exciting for everybody.”
I think this game will be close, but Peyton Manning is going to get a win. His teammates know how bad he wants this win and they will pull together the win.