Originally posted on Helmet2Helmet  |  Last updated 2/17/12

Obviously, it goes without saying that Peyton Manning and Chris Weinke had entirely different NFL careers; one is a surefire Hall of Famer, and the other is … well, a surefire has-been.

Though, as far as they are from each other on the football spectrum, there is one thing that binds them both: Spinal fusion surgery.

Weinke underwent, and recovered from, the complex procedure during his time at Florida State, going on to win the Heisman Trophy in 2000. Manning’s been under the knife four times already, his legendary career now in serious jeopardy as a result.

Knowing all too well what he’s enduring, Weinke had some encouraging words for Manning, predicting that he’ll soon return to the field — possibly better than ever.

“I’ve spoken to Peyton early on in the process,” Weinke told USA TODAY Thursday. “My gut feeling: It’s not a question of if he can get back healthy because it’s already been proven it can happen because I went through it.

“It comes down to Peyton and what he wants. My gut tells me he wants to come back and play. My gut also tells me he’s going to come back and be just as good if not better than he was prior to the surgery.”

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