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Tebow’s success has commentators, fans discussing God's role in football
December 12th, 2011
06:51 AM ET

Tebow’s success has commentators, fans discussing God's role in football

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Tim Tebow led his team to another come-from-behind victory Sunday, this time against the Chicago Bears. He has now won seven out of eight games as the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback, all the while unabashedly preaching his devout faith in God.

"If you were not a believer coming into this game,” said Fox's Daryl Johnston after the Broncos win, “you have to be now.”

While Tebow’s unexpected success on the field has perplexed football commentators and fans alike, his faith and on-field success have led people to talk about belief, miracles and their impact on the sports world.

Tebow has even convinced some nonbelievers that more is going on than just football. Les Carpenter of Yahoo Sports, after assuring readers that he believes in evolution, dinosaurs and the big bang, writes this:

"But I also believe in Tim Tebow because there is no scientific explanation for what is happening to the Denver Broncos. There is no other plausible way to make sense of these games and the amazing, miraculous way with which they win week after week. … It just happened."

The question is this: Does Tim Tebow’s unexpected success, with his awkward scrambling style and his shotput-esque throwing motion, have something to do with a higher power?

Does Tebow really have God on his side?

The answers to that question run the gamut, and while the general consensus is that something special is happening in Denver, there are just as many who believe Tebow is benefiting from a good team as those who believe God sports the blue and orange on Sunday.

Bronco fans are not shy about discussing faith and their team.

In an article titled “Tim Tebow has the Broncos believing they can’t lose,” Mark Kiszla exhibits an overt belief that Tebow is getting help from upstairs. He writes:

“The magic of Tim Tebow is bigger than football and grows larger with each late-game miracle by the Broncos. Logic fails to explain this no-way-in-heaven, overtime victory against Chicago, unless you consider: Denver played as if victory were preordained.”

Looking for religion in that paragraph (between the uses of miracle, heaven and preordained) doesn’t take reading between the lines. And that wasn’t even as blatant as when Rick Telander of the Chicago (the town Tebow just defeated) Sun-Times appealed to God directly.

“And God, if you’re reading, doing some Monday-morning quarterbacking, would you mind telling the rest of us what’s up with this proselytizing young minister who did nearly a full minute of his famed “Tebow-ing” on the goal line, balancing motionless on one knee, chin on fist like Rodin’s “The Thinker,” while the rest of his team lined up for the opening kickoff?”

Telander even offered to speak in tongues, which surprisingly enough wasn’t the first time that idea came up on Sunday.

Former New York Giant Michael Strahan, when asked about Tebow after the game, jokingly spoke in tongues after the game to show his astonishment at the win.

But not everyone is a believer.

In post-game interviews, Bears players told the Chicago Sun-Times that “It’s not really what he is doing” and that no one was panicked because it was “Tebow Time.”

People online were equally skeptical.

If deciding whether Tebow is God’s quarterback were a football game, Twitter would be the field. Believers and skeptics have used the platform to make their case between a mixture of hash tags and fake accounts.

People tweeted about Chicago’s bad defense and Tebow’s rough three quarters. They also asked why God favors Tebow’s belief, while players on other teams believe in God, too. What makes him special, people questioned?

A fake Jesus Christ account, @Jesus_M_Christ, tweeted: "I think Dad loves @TimTebow more than me."

With all of this talk on Twitter, including from the Tebow doubters, four topics relating to Tebow, including #tebow and #themilehighmessiah, were trending worldwide on Twitter.

But not all football fans are ready to ordain Tebow. The New York Times’ Frank Bruni, who did acknowledge that he was a believer in Tebow, writes about this disbelief:

“Tebow performs a sort of self-righteous bait-and-switch — you come for scrimmages and he subjects you to scriptures — and the displeasure with that is also writ colorfully on the Web, in Tebow-ridiculing Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, one devoted entirely to snapshots through time of Tebow in tears.”

“We’re a team that keeps the faith,” Tebow told Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa after Sunday’s game. “We just kept believing.”

Whether it is belief in God, good play or a mixture of both, the quarterback whom the Wall Street Journal has anointed “God’s Quarterback” will continue to start for the Broncos - and fans will certainly be watching.

And maybe that is Tebow’s biggest accomplishment. In a year when the sports world has been rocked by scandals both on and off the field, Tebow has people interested in a positive sports story.

So whether they are watching because they believe in miracles or because they just like football, does it really matter?

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Sports

soundoff (2,257 Responses)
  1. The Jackdaw

    This kind of horse krap makes me sick. Not only because there is no God, but because those that believe there is actually think that he gives a krap about football. Get real people. You are all starting to look pretty dumb.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  2. Josh

    Yes, God is intervening on behalf of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos while letting people in other parts of the world suffer more than we can comprehend.

    Maybe the answer to why he's winning is that he's super-motivated, has pumped up his team to be motivated as well, and plays an unconventional style that other teams haven't figured out how to defend against.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Jonathan

      suffering is relative. God helps those who worship, have faith, and ask for it. 99% of people don't do all 3. You probably want something for nothing like most people.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Does God help you spread hate because you bow to his absentee-father-like qualities?

      December 12, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  3. Dan Johnson

    I have a hard time with the wearing it on his sleeve stuff, yet I must confess it bothers me less with Tebow as it is clearly genuine. I have not heard him claim that God is impacting on football games. If he finds strength in his faith fine. To suggest that God takes sides would be ridiculous. Too many folks who've gone through terrible things would be left asking why a sports event mattered more then their kids dying. I lost two of mine, and when anyone suggests God had a hand in that I don't buy it. it suggests a selective God choosing to intervene at times with a miracle, or sitting back and watching suffering. I don't buy it.

    I believe that what is most important to Tim Tebow is beyond football. It allows him to do things that do matter in how he impacts people around him and I have a great respect for that. He seems very humble and self deprecating. I wish him all the success in the world.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Kent Allard

      Tebow seems like a genuinely good and decent person and the criticism he receives seems unfair – until you hear him say something silly like he did last night. When discussing the play where the back stopped the clock by running out of bounds, Tebow suggested that Jesus intervened in the Bronco's favor. When praising God's intervention in your favor in a football game, you are also praising God's intervention in your opponent's heartache. This seems naive and wrongheaded to me. Praying for strength to do your best is fine, thinking that your success is due to the working of God fails to comprehend that, in sports, your good fortune is someone else's ill fortune.

      Tebow has a lot of potential as a quarterback and as a human being, but his view of Faith is juvenile and self centered. Let's hope he continues to grow in all aspects of his life.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  4. Mark

    Yes! God sits on his throne with a beer and bowl of chips; wears a foam Broncos finger, and directs the Broncos fortunes through his chosen one – Tim Tebow! Give me a break!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  5. Doubtful

    Frankly if there is a God paying attention to Tim Tebow and helping him to win football games, I want to know why that God isn't helping all of our poor hungry unemployed citizens instead.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Mark

      AMEN brother (or sister)!

      December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  6. Packer fan

    C'mon, Denver doesn't need help from the creator of the universe to beat the Chicago Bears without their starting QB.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • oldblindjohn

      Unless god took out thier starting QB.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  7. Jim

    Judging from Tebow's physical appearance, he should be praising the inventor of PEDs.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Observer

      Really IGNORANT guess. If you knew anything about Tebow you'd know that he is one of the hardest-training players. Guess again.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      So Observer, you find it more reasonable that .. a GOD is helping him?!

      December 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  8. vel

    the pure arrogance to think that some god cares about idiots who play sports whilst allowing good people to die is ridiculous.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • MD

      it is not God who allows this to happen, God gave us free will and things happen for a reason. Not b/c God wants to see people hungry or dying....

      December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  9. Peter

    I'm a latter-day saint (Mormon) and I honestly think that God has many other things to worry about than a football game. Whether the Broncos win or loose, it doesn't make any difference in the lives of suffering people. Tebow seems like a nice guy, but saying he's God's quarterback makes as much sense as saying Satan was behind Chicago... I'm sure God's attention is in places like Darfur, The Congo, The Philipines, and anywere else hope is needed.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • PushingBack

      Peter – while I appreciate what you are saying here, the irony of your statement still hits me in the face. You want me to believe in this being that is 1) all powerful and 2) righteous and good and 3) compassionate enough to kill his "son" for us. Well, these three things are in conflict with one another. In other words, an all-powerful god that is good and compassionate would not let horrible injustice or suffering in the world. And an all-powerful god could eliminate evil and suffering in the blink of an eye – it would be a simple feat after if one had created the universe.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Bob

      It is man's job to step in to help in these places. We have been given this life and we (man) are messing it up.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Peter

      Pushing Back – I completely understand where you are coming from. Why would a loving God not prevent such atrocities around the world? I think the simplest answer to your question is that of the many gifts God has given us, the ability to choose (or free agency) and to make decisions for ourselves is among the greatest. This, however, comes with consequences both good and bad. If I am good and I want to do good, I am free to make that choice. But if I am "evil", and want to commit evil on others, but am prevented from doing so because God doesn't allow it, then God ceases to be God and becomes nothing more than a puppeteer preventing anyone from making their own choices and forcing His will on everyone, even if it is good. Bad things happen to good people all the time. No one is exempt from trials and tribulation. It is our reaction to the hard times that will determine who we truly are.

      I hope I made some sense here. Thanks for the response.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  10. JennyTX

    Oh good grief. Why is God wasting time helping a football team? Why can't God spend his time curing sick people, preventing natural disasters, and fixing the economy? (Hint: because God exists only in people's imagination.)

    December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  11. SoFunny

    One of the most stupidest questions! That is like saying "IS GOD AGAINST ROMNEY' Why would CNN print this story?
    Here's some suggestions for your next stupid question on CNN. "Does God Like The Movies", "Is God White or Black" "Does God Hate Rednecks". "Does God Hate Stupid Reporters" "Does God Like Ice Cream" ???????

    December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  12. ikenaz

    Many athletes pray before and after games, I agree...T'bow's humility and giving credit to the Creator and not himself is and a blessing, but to call him Gdd's quarterback is stupid. T'bow stated in an interview even if he looses he still thanks the Creator so they (media) need to stop this foolishness and making a mochary of the faith. So if he starts loosing then I guess God isn't on his side...smh.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  13. ThreeBoone

    Angels in the Outfield. Anyone? Start flapping and they will come?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  14. energyrater1

    Those that have strong belief in God, strive to excel and live a good moral life get rewarded. Happened since the beginning of time with many people, not with just Tebow.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • kd

      And people who con't believe lived lives ruined by God?!? That makes no sense – but then neither does religion.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Jim

      On the other hand, a lot of people that have strong belief in God, strive to excel and live a good moral life get don't get rewarded.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • vel

      that's so cute. believe in god and get rewarded. So, I guess god hates everyone who has trouble? What a petty and pathetic god you've created for yourself.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • energyrater1

      First of all you have to have something to believe in, an idea, a goal a desire. You can't just say "God please help me!" You have to make the sacrifice, and the sacrifice is not fun, believe me. You have to initiate your own start, and not go at it halfway. But the concidences, the crazy doors that open, this is the stuff people write about. Sorry non-believers, but it is true. And who says God can't have a little fun on the football field? For a guy who was never supposed to be a quarterback, maybe God is saying, live a good life, believe and this could be YOU.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • MD

      I think a lot of people here are haters and probably live a very shallow and unfulfilling life. God is awesome and He takes care of those who love Him, acknowledge Him, believe in Him. Any catastrophe in this world is not His fault, God gave us free will, and our decisions is what impacts the type of life that we are dealt with. Believe or not believe, but He exist, and He loves everyone- He just wants us to know him and start a life. Why do people expect God to know them and help them if they dont take the time to know Him? I think people need to stop being so critical about another person's belief and focus on themselves.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  15. PushingBack

    God intervened over the weekend in a Rock Band party at my house. We kept on crashing midway through the songs. I think our drummer was an atheist so this makes sense now.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  16. Tim

    One of the by-products of faith is joy. That's what we're seeing on from Tebow. It has nothing to do with evolution, dinosaurs or abortion. It's just the joy of playing the game.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  17. Andrew

    Sort of like, well, a regular guy...

    December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  18. kd

    This is so unbelievably stupid. If your faith is so weak that you need a sports player to buck it up, you're in a ton of trouble. With all of the millions and billions of people suffering from war, poverty, hunger, disease, slavery, abuse, and so much more, it takes a fool to believe that God would waste time on an American millionaire's game.

    Tebow and athletes and actors like him make a mockery of faith and only display their child-like simplicity when it comes to faith. It's the height of hubris to think God would give blessings on something so trivial when there is so much else that is wrong with the world.

    Tremendously stupid and insulting.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Tim

      but if it takes Tebow for people to start talking about God again, why wouldn't God do it?

      December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • PaulBoomer

      You got that right.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  19. JOregon

    I am pretty sure even Tebow has said God doesn't care about a football game.
    However a belief in God may help someone perform in ways those without could never understand.
    Calm, poise, determination, clarity of mind, leadership, those are characteristics that belief can give a person.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • kd

      You need faith in a God for those things? I don't think so.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • JeanneLH

      I think he just prays to do his best. And his teammates have started to do the same. Elway is just hating this...cause Tebow is not your usual pro quarterback, and he wants someone that he can train and mentor. Although he seems to be forgetting that he was for so long the "one who couldn't win the big one", when his career at Denver began. So, John, leave him alone and let him win his way. I know Urban Myer said that alot of his team kind of disappeared in the hotel the night before their bowl game. They found everyone in Tebow's room...where he was telling everyone that they need to pray to do their best, and he was speaking that they could win this game. I don't think that Tim preaches so much, but that he inspires those around him to do their best. I'm enjoying it. Quit trying to make him out to be Jesus. He has never claimed that.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • JOregon

      KD
      I didn't say it was a requirement, I said it helps.
      Jeanne
      I am a Christian but my beliefs are nothing at all like Tim's.
      Sort of like Republicans and Democrats are both Patriotic Americans.
      I would love to see Tebow win the big one just because Elway is being such an @$$

      December 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  20. if horses had Gods ...

    It's easier to believe that God wants Tim Tebow to win football games .. than it is to believe in walking on water, arks filled with 2 of every animal, virgin births & resurections from the dead.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.