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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. Diet Coke13

    The same way He was on the side of Brady, Montana, Manning, etc. when they were steamrolling every team.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  2. Jacob

    This just in... George Clooney believes in Santa Claus! Oh my, what does this mean? Is he Santa's favorite actor? Should we watch his movies if want better gifts under tree?

    December 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  3. Mike

    First of all, everyone should believe what they believe. Second, if you believe that God cares which team wins a football game, then you probably believe in Santa and his elves, and Rudolph too! Give me a break!!

    December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • upsidaisianna

      I happen to know God doesn't even like football. He's more of a chess fan.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  4. Tubb

    This is lunacy.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  5. open400

    If Tebow is religious, why is he playing football on the Sabbath? I thought that was a day of rest; unless, you can make big bucks in the NFL.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Scott

      The actual Sabath is Saturday not Sunday.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • What?

      Actually the Sabbath is Saturday and not Sunday according to the Bible and Jewish tradition. Sunday is the first day of the week, not the last which is the Sabbath. As for working on the Sabbath that was true under the Mosaic Law or “The Law”, but now we are under a new dispensation called Grace which we have been delivered from by the Cross of Jesus. Therefore salvation is available only through faith and not by works.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • derp

      Actually the Sabbath is Saturday

      Then I assume he will be returning that blasphemous hiesmann trophy since he won it playing on the sabbath.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  6. God plays favorites?

    This insanely idiotic debate has gone too far. Anyone who actually believes that Tebow is compelled to play better by God needs to go to a mental health clinic. When one praying player wins, that means God decided to ignore another praying player on the other team (which is then always copped out by the losing player as "God has a plan"). I'm sick of it. I'm fine with a player having a strong faith and thanking God for the opportunity that they have, but the idea that God is intervening in a GAME is ludicrous.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  7. Anita Bleaujob

    Hello, I worship (insert delusional deity/devil worship name here).
    I've never actually seen this (insert god here), but I blindly believe anyway.
    I was a C student on my best day.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Perhaps in our drug testing of athletes we should screen for this biggest reality-altering drug of them all....religion.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Since when have athletes been praised for their mental prowess?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  8. Anti Sarah

    So with all the crap going on in the world, a supreme being is going to get the back of a zealot and help him to win football games. No wonder so many people choose not to believe and generate hate. His god certainly wasn't with him when he faced the Lions' den, was it? Perhaps this weekend will tell us who this righteous god sides with: Patriots or the Denver Tees (because they will never be referred to as the Broncos ever again.)

    December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  9. thoughtsjustsome

    Tim Tebow is winning at life and there is no doubt that God is helping him do so. The quality of life that an earnest and faithful follower of Jesus Christ experiences is better than those who reject God's leadership in their lives. That is what we are witnessing and it's a whole lot more important than a 7 game winning streak. This doesn't mean earnest Christians are are always winners in football or that they are immune to the problems of life. A servant-hearted, compassionate, hard working, humble and respectful response to others and to life is simply a superior way to live. It's the way of Christ and it produces a better life experience than the "survivor of the fittest" alternative.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      No doubt?

      I guess there's never much doubt in the mind of an idiot. Not much of anything else, either.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      It's "survival of the fittest" and perhaps you should look up self fulfilling prophecy.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Jake

      Umm...yeah...the only thing is, since there is no god, how could he be helping Tebow?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Pro_Equality

      I agree

      December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • USmellLikePee

      Please provide tangible proof that your quality of life is better than others.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • God plays favorites?

      I'm not religious, but who are you to tell me that your life is better than mine? Follow your favorite book's advice and reserve judgement.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • tallulah13

      @thoughtsjustsome

      You don't get out much, do you? I think you need to broaden your knowledge of others before you can comment on the quality of life of people who don't share your personal belief.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • thoughtsjustsome

      I don't think anyone "who gets out much" would likely argue that a selfish, loveless, uninspired, arrogant existence is qualitatively better than the alternative that Tebow is modeling. We all have choices to make about how we live and what philosophy of life we follow...some philosophies are superior to others. Maybe you don't believe the way of Christ is the "most excellent way," but it's foolish to assert that all ways are equally beneficial.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  10. wruss

    No wonder the world is in such bad shape- God is too busy watching football!

    December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • nwatcher

      ...no...there are not enough self-proclaimed christian people living/practicing what they profess to believe. God is probably not a big football fan but he does have an interest in every fan and player.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  11. Jack

    @Thoughtsjustsome this is one of the most retarded statements I've read today "The quality of life that an earnest and faithful follower of Jesus Christ experiences is better than those who reject God's leadership in their lives" I know plenty of people who believe in a different god, or no god at all that have amazing lives...To think anything else is nothing short of idiocracy.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  12. Jerry

    Give me a break! There are many factors that go into winning a game and a fairy tale in which some people stubbornly believe has NOTHING to do with it.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  13. Sam

    "Is the success of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow attributable to God?" Asks the CNN poll.

    What's next? "Is the House GOP plan to eat immigrant children morally questionable?"

    Why do you pose questions the very premise of which are completely bat-s&#t ridiculous? When you pose silly questions like that, and 27% say "yes" (or "no" if the question for instance is "is it okay to tell people they suck if they're black?") you slowly lend legitimacy to those crazy and spiteful people who want to plunge us into darkness and stomp their feet on imagined enemies different from themselves.

    You know that half the people who give the dumb answer were only doing so out of irony anyway. I've done that from time to time. But we're still colluding in giving the impression that completely nutty opinions are somewhat legit.

    I know, I'm going off the cuff about a CNN poll that means nothing. I'm also a big fan of Occupy, which has its own list of silly notions even though the broader gist of it is totally right on. but I just feel like the questions themselves could be more reasonable. That's all. Okay I'm done.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  14. Soda Bob

    If God is on Tebow's side, then He is a cheater.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  15. Reasonable man

    And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    Matthew 6:5-6

    Yet another salad bar Christian....

    December 12, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Soda Bob

      In contrast, see Matthew 6:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

      So, which is it? Should Christians hide their good deeds, so that they might not get praised by others? Or should they do good deeds in the open, so that God can receive glory from those deeds? It can't be both ways...

      December 12, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Reasonable man

      Throwing a football is not a good deed. We're talking about prayer. Do try to keep up.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  16. Bob Haynes

    Oh sure, as if some sky pixie is cheering on one team destroying another: "Yeah! Go team! Bust some legs. Dislocate some shoulders. Create some brain damage. I just love people hurting other people. Go, go, go!!!!"

    Sheesh. Steven Weinberg says it best: "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

    December 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  17. Lenny Pincus

    So with all the Christians on the Bears pointing at the sky and crossing themselves and having team prayers before and after the game God says, "Tough luck, I'm with Tebow" and this makes sense to people. This would mean God picks which kids get cancer based on their relative belief in Him. Evangelicals are nuts.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  18. Eric THBW

    There are still people in this day and age who are actually ignorant enough to believe that there is god who has human feelings emotions and that would actually favor one person or group of people over another. Tebow is living his life on his chosen path and nothing more than that.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  19. Ryan

    The reason this country is going down hill because people make comments against us Christians. Don't like Christians? To bad. Freedom of Religion. Don't like it, then move.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Sounds very typically Christian of you.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Would it be so heartwarming and inspiring to you if a Buddhist player stopped in the endzone and gestured his thanks to Buddha? Would you cheer for religious freedom then? Oh, that's right, with all of the gods in human culture and history, there is only one true god, YOUR god. How original.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      You are NOT being "attacked" when we say, "We don't share your 'beliefs,' and we won't let you force YOURS onto all other Americans by misusing the power of the law." Please get a life. No one is attacking genuine Christians.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Ryan
      I'll stop making comments against christians when they stop trying to force their morals and religious laws on everyone else. Like you said, "Freedom of Religion. Don't like it, then move." This also applies to people's religion who aren't christains. So as long as your trying to force your morals and laws on everyone else, expect comments from people who hate you.

      If you really want them to stop, then send a letter to your congressman and have them stop. We'll stop when they do.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Pre_Equality

      I agree.. this country was founded based on Christianity.. Though not always the best choices, it was what they decided... If you dont like it, too bad..

      December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Jesus occupied!

      Another reetard

      December 12, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Pro_Equality

      What is this world coming to that we can't attribute success to a caring and all loving God... And it's not that God would only allow Tebow to win; maybe his walk is strong and he actually seeks God's help. not everything is so obvious and concrete, but us Christians have faith and believe.

      Try it, nay sayers. Whether you believe it or not there is a higher power.. And you can call him what you choose but to be so Nave to think that we control everything is absurd

      December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      Don't like freedom of speech and people who bad mouth your stupid religion? Shut up. Move somewhere else.

      That is exactly what you sound like, and it's exactly why we give you a hard time: because you deserve it.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      "Whether you believe it or not there is a higher power."

      No, there is not.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • derp

      "I agree.. this country was founded based on Christianity"

      Uh, no.

      This country was founded on the principle of personal liberty. Which of course is in complete contradiction to christian principles.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • tallulah13

      Pre-Equality, this country was not based on religion. It was based on the idea of personal freedom. A government that is free from religion is the basis of a nation where all religions (and non-religions) can co-exist peacefully. I do wish believers would understand that simple fact.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      This country founded on Christian principles? Read the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797... it Includes the following:

      “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

      December 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  20. MeatLover

    All I have to say, is if "God" is worried about someone winning a football game, then it explains why the world is in the current s**t whole that it is.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:21 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.