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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. Bob

    So, believers, how about all those millions of innocent children that have been killed by natural disasters and diseases. Do you think that maybe even a few of their parents prayed sincerely for god to save those kids? Of course they did. Yet nothing happened.

    I'd ask you to draw your own conclusions from that, but reason seems beyond the capabilities of the religious.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  2. David

    In all honestly, at mile high its not unexpected to see multiple 50 yard field goals in one game. The bigger surprise is how the Bears drop the ball by, running out of bounds, leaving a wide open M. Willis for 19 yard gain on the sidelines to stop the clock, then a fumble (when it looked as if the bears were going to actually win this game)<<<-- should be the talk of the game!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  3. REALITYCHECK

    So if the broncos don't win the superbowl are we to assume god doesn't exist? Or maybe the devil has taken over heaven and therefore god was in chains and couldn't help out the nfl messiah? What if Tebow gets injured, is jesus going to come down from heaven and be his back up quarter back?
    Seriously come on! I listen to how we mock other regions of the world for their "strange" religious beliefs but no one finds this a little strange and humorous?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  4. Speechless

    If Tim Tebow wins Super Bowl 46, I'll convert to Christianity.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  5. Joe Gerken

    Why does God hate the Buffalo Bills?????? What did we do wrong?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  6. tallulah13

    I literally just read an interesting letter to the editor in my local paper questioning if this approval for Tebow would stretch to a jewish or an islamic player, thanking their own particular manifestation of god. Methinks not.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  7. Doug

    Do I believe God is directly changing the outcome of Tebow's games? No! Do I believe Tim Tebows faith in God reflects in the way he plays, and quite possibly in the outcome of his games? Absolutely! If you believe in God or not is not the question here. The bible lays out a lifestyle of being a good and positive person, and Tim seems to exhibit these qualities.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Bob

      yeah, and he sacrifices a goat before every game and burns it at the altar, just like your horrid bible commands.

      Yes, Jesus said those nasty OT rules still apply, so get your sacrificial knife bloody or god will torture you forever.

      No thanks You can keep your sicko Christian supersti-tions to yourself. Quietly, please.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  8. nowWhat

    "What about the people dying all over the world?" God already did His part by giving His only Son Jesus to die for us all so that we all can be saved... Now what are YOU doing to help those in need?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • tallulah13

      Saved from what? Not real things, like natural disasters, genocide or famine. Children are still abused and neglected, disease still wipes out entire families. It seems you admit it yourself. Your god is worthless in the real world.

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

      Physical needs are met daily thru the love of His believers. SPIRITUAL need is meet with a personal commitment to acknowledge Jesus Christs dealth resurrection so that we could have ETERNAL life. Physical life (suffering, sucks isnt it!) but He gives us the grace to continue till we will be with HIM everlasting! YES, meeting those NEEDS is just a means of showing they have Gods love in their hearts for others to have an eternal reward!. I share this to you with sincerity only thru prayers as this has been shared to me also! I rejoice daily despite this (physical suffering Im still on to ;}:}

      December 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  9. Buddy

    There will always be skeptics, non-believers, heritics, and blasphemers until the final tribulation period. As for Tebow what makes people so dumbfounded? That's what is so perplexing. He won in high school, and two Collegiate BCS National Championships, Heisman Trophy nominee and winner. That jump pass into the endzone sold me personally. Three overtime wins as a starter in the NFL. If I were Elway I would definitely be thanking God for what he has bestowed on DENVER.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • tallulah13

      Football is a team sport. Instead of thanking god, Tebow should be thanking his teammates.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  10. Rod

    The temptation is always to MOLD GOD in our desires to satisfy our wants! The HOLINESS of GOD is such that everyone trembles and even the devil FLEES. Every knee bows and confess to the glory of God in the name of JESUS CHRIST!!!
    GOD simply gives the grace to strengthen once FAITH football (Tebow) or OTHERWISE!
    Of course there are other believers in the opposite teams and they are just amazed at how their Master works! An event spectre should not be misconstrued of the ETERNAL glory God is showing us, mere humans but He loves us ALL!
    Of course, God loves all of them. FOOTBALL or anything is just a way to manifest Gods righteousness and sovereignty!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  11. Joseph Smith

    Shouldn't it be Jesus H. Christ, and not Jesus M. Christ? (At least that is the middle initial I always heard and thought the H stood for Holy.) I seriously doubt God considers any football player's prayers a priority, with the exception of maybe their prayers for a sick family member or something along those lines. Entertainment prayers probably don't rank that high is all I am saying.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      I thought my name was Jesus H Christ until I was 12 .. or at least my father did.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • SeanNJ

      The H stands for "Henry." I just call him Hank.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  12. Mikeambrose524

    God would intervene in a football game but not the Holicaust ???

    December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  13. Bill

    I feel bad for Matt Prater. The guy kicks 2 clutch field goals of 59 and 51 yards, and gets ignored. Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jen

      this. a 59 yeard field goal is unbelievable. and he cleared it with room to spare! very impressive

      December 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  14. Moses

    Although I believe in God and that the Bible is God's word I must conclude that God is not really interested in football as much as He is interested in Tim; it is easy to believe that God is blessing the faith of Tebow in the midst of others; for more on faith and the Bible please visit my website at http://www.parchmentministries.com

    December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  15. Joel

    A god that cares about football isn't a god I would want to believe in. It's ridiculous that all of this stuff in the world is going on and people believe that god is favoring someone over another. There are numerous Christians on both sides of the ball, fans, execs, etc. God favoring one person above all isn't scriptural, nor is it believable. This just annoys me. I heard this in church growing up, and I heard this in bible school. JOregon. "Calm, poise, determination, clarity of mind, leadership" aren't something that a belief in God gives you, many non believers have these traits. Many, many non-christians have led teams to Superbowls, and led governments, corporations, etc. Some people just have those skills, others don't. Give me a break.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  16. Time will tell

    If it is of GOD it will last.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  17. Jen

    I honestly have no problem that he thanks God but that commercial last year during the Superbowl crossed a major line, and criticism against him for that should be expected.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • jiggs84

      You mean the anti abortion video? Love it! Its really sad anyone would choose to critisize him for that.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  18. Pastor Troy Keaton

    Article I wrote last week for a local paper. "Is God a football fan?" My thoughts
    ;http://pastortroyequips.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/is-god-a-football-fan/

    December 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  19. TimTheus

    So, god hates the Vikings or the Rams? Why do they deserve his hatred? And besides if it were true that god takes an interest in football, PACKERS wayyyyy to goooooo!

    How stupid can reporters and fans be? Honestly. Ok, so Tebow has strong religigious beliefs. I bet they charge him up. Good for him, good for the Broncos. But there is no reason to assume that god's rolling the dice.
    If Tebow feels energized, good. He has become a driving force in his team. That's what star athletes do: they believe in themselves for whatever reason.
    Remember Michael Jordan being in the "zone" – there was no talk about god then. Tiger Woods anybody,when he was at the top of his game? It would have been hard to credit any one god for his success, his mother being a buddhist, his dad christian and Tiger himself whatever he represents of those mixed faiths.
    So let's drop this nonsensical talk about god and sports.
    Tebow is coming into his own as a pro football player, whatever the reasons. He can stare at the ceiling as often as he wants, the game happens on the field, not up in the sky.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  20. SeanNJ

    I find it hysterical that the writer felt it was important to note the @Jesus_M_Christ twitter account wasn't the actual Jesus Christ.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
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About this blog

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.