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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. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    I feel like a whole bunch of people are going to be crushed when the broncos start losing again : (

    December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  2. Fish

    I don't think this is about God favoring Tebow. It's about believing and Tebow believes God is on his side. Funny how that works... Did anyone think the Cardinals would win the World Series? There were a lot of "believers" on that team. Did anyone think the Rays would make the playoffs or that Boston would fall apart to help that happen? I'm related to one of the Rays who I know preaches "believing" daily. My son plays college football and there are many "believers" on the team. In 121 years of school history they have never made the playoffs. Until this year...

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

      He can believe whatever he wants, but why does he think it's appropriate to talk about religion when he's doing a post-game interview about football? He obviously is trying to push his religion on the viewers – there's no other explanation unless you think he's confused and doesn't realize he's on national TV at the time.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  3. Jake

    Most people who can read know there is no god, so I don't get why this is an article. If you think there's a god that has something to do with the Broncos winning, I'm impressed that you figured out how to turn on your computer today.

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

      That is your problem if you dont believe in God. Stop trying to shove your athesits beliefs down our throats.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • pete

      Poor baby, Tebow is shoving religion down your throat because he mentions the word Jesus, oh my God, how terrifying! Last time I checked, Tebow was a football player who holds no political office of any kind and he has the right as an American to express his faith in Jesus Christ and I am not even religious. I get tired of you militant atheists shoving your beliefs down other people throat's. You hate Tebow because he is a Conservative. Chrisitan. If you get tired of his God talk, you should move to North Korea where they oppress Chrisitans there. you would fit right in!

      December 12, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Jake

      Atheism isn't a belief, it is knowledge. Big difference.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Jake

      I don't hate him, I just think it's inappropriate to use his football success to advertise his religion. And since religion is harmful, I don't think the NFL should allow it since there are children likely to be influenced by him. It has nothing to do with football and would be no different than a player endorsing a political candidate during a post-game interview.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  4. Aqeel El-Amin

    Why do people care about the kids faith so much? If he has faith or you do or don't has no factor on you your life or your enjoyment of the game. It's a game where someone throws a ball, someone catches a ball, and someone thries to stop someone with the ball. If you don't like his "display" of faith then don't watch it. Those who hate him or faith get to have the freedom to say whatever they want about him. What makes you rights greater then his rights do display faith?

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

      I care 1) because if he was on my team, it's a sign of a lack of intelligence, 2) because as someone who watches the NFL, I have to have his religion shoved in my face and most importantly because 3) there are children who emulate Tebow because he is an NFL player and he sends a harmful message to impressionable youths.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • o.k.

      Jake...if seeing someone praying is having religion shoved in your face, then turn off the television. You atheists sure are thin skinned.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Jake

      Turn off the television? I turned on an NFL game to watch football, not hear Tebow preaching. And I'm not a kid who's going to be tricked into believing in fantasies, but there ARE many children out there watching and for that reason, it is concerning. Nothing to do with me being "thin-skinned", everything to do with trying to protect children from the wrongs of religion.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Fish

      Religion is "harmful"? Wow.... That doesn't even deserve a response.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Jake

      I agree, there's not much to discuss around the obvious fact that religion is harmful. If you honestly disagree, I'd love to hear why.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • o.k.

      Jake,

      I think most rationale people are going to scoff at your opinion (you do know it is an opinion, right?). There is no doubt that some pretty horrible things have been done in the name of religion. So too with atheism (pol pot anyone?) If you think that children seeing a man pray is harmful, however, you've taken your paranoia to new heights. People have been praying in public since, well since the beginning of man (I'll let you define that one–no need to argue a new issue), and we've survived all the same.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  5. Ian

    I believe in God and all but they are winning with defense and the fact that NONE of the teams they have beat are any good except maybe the Jets and that is pushing it. Sorry but they have an easy mode schedule.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  6. Cletus Vandamn

    It's crazy that people actually believe there is some ghost living in the sky that has a say in whether they live a perfect life after death, or live in a pit of feeces. People really are complete morons.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Michael

      Any why not? God cares about anything that can be used to spread the gospel and further His kingdom. So if a football player is a Christian, then yes God would care enough about football to use it for His glory.

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

      I'd rather live believing there is a God and die and find out He doesn't exist, than to live believing there is no God and die only to find out He's real. If the first scenario is true, then I wouldn't have lost nor gained anything because there was nothing to lose or gain in the first place, but...if the second case is true, then I would've lost EVERYTHING. You, sir, are quick to call us morons for believing in God but YOU are a fool, for only a fool would say "There is no God." (Psalms 14:1)

      December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Get Real

      Michael, "I would rather believe..."

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century (where have you been?)

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  7. Mark

    Look at all of you bouncing off of the walls. Too funny.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  8. Ben

    http://harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/a-statistical-analysis-of-the-miracles-of-tim-tebow/

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

      Basically Tebow has better (but not statistically significant enough to prove an outside force is at work) timing in creating good plays than other QBs.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  9. Sean

    Really...is this really an article? Who would actually believe god is helping in football games? Whether you believe or not, it is completely absurd to think some omnipotent being has a hand in the Denver Broncos because their QB thanks him. And to Ryan, you think think the country is going downhill because people dont believe in a christian god. That is the most backward line of thinking I have other heard. Then to add to the stupidity you ask those who dont believe to move. MOVE! Do you think we are a wholey Christian nation. Maybe you should move if you think that is what we are, because we are not. Any basic civics class in middle school will show you the US is a MELTING POT of religions, cultures, etc. So shame on CNN for provoking people to actually consider this complete waste of an article.

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

      Sean, if you ever read Jesus wisdom you'd know what was going on. Since you're just another lazy human that refuses to open the Bible to read, comprehend His truth and apply it to you life, you'll continue on your pathetic road complaining about Jesus who you know not. Funny, when you die, Jesus will say the same thing to you. He knows you not.

      Amen.

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

      Sean, man, I don't think Dan Merica is really questioning whether or not God Almighty intervenes in professional sports; I think it's meant to be satire.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  10. Big Bushy Mustache

    If God can make Tim Tebow win football games, why can't he bring Jim Baker and Tammy Fey back together? I miss them so much.

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

      I think because one of them is dead.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Big Bushy Mustache

      Well can't he solve that problem too? Details details geeeeze.....

      December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Missy1982

      AGREED!!!!!!!

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

      WordUpToo, you posted "I think because one of them is dead".

      Answer: Tammi physical body is gone, but her spirit went back to God, who created all.

      Amen.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • WordUpToo

      No Heaven Scent, her spirit went back to Maybelline. Who perhaps WAS her god afterall.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  11. objecttothis

    Wow, you guys really have the drop on God... that's right, he really doesn't care about starving children or natural disasters, just Sunday afternoon football. Do you hear yourself talking!? Tebow strongly believes that his goal in life is to do everything he does for God which includes his profession. He chooses to talk to people about the most important thing to him and he chooses to thank God. If you told me that elephants weren't the most important thing in your life but you never talked about them I'd call you a fake.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      English is not your first language, is it?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • objecttothis

      English is my first language Grammar Nazi.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • HeavenSent

      objecttothis, Tebow is doing the greatest good, especially getting unbelievers to think and talk about God.

      Amen.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Erik

      HS-Well said!

      December 12, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • derp

      "getting unbelievers to think and talk about God."

      And make fun of all you jesustards. Don't you think god would be behind the Packers if any team. They are undefeated.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • WordUpToo

      Yeah, talk and think about god and reconfirm that we were correct all along, you guys really are dopes for Jeezus.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  12. robert hoffmann

    And you know how much God loves football ! Do these sports figures (and you) really believe that God is so concerned about who wins and loses a football game? This type of ignorance about the nature God is what keeps us from spiritually evolving.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  13. Bulldog

    What amazes me more about this discussion than what Tim Tebow does is the amount of hate that is heaped on him for what he believes. We are truly a sad, sad world when we have nothing better to do than denegrate what others believe in. You want to be an Atheist? Have at it. I leave you to your beliefs and respect your right to think other than the way I do. You are gambling God doesn't exist and I am gambling that he does- all I lose is a little time for prayer and church.

    We should grant the same courtesy (a word missing in most of the posters' vocabulary) to those that don't agree with your opinions or beliefs that you expect from them.

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

      maybe god can let you know how to spell denigrate.

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

      Bulldog, not only do we get to spend time focused on Jesus, we get to learn how He wants us to be the best that we can be.

      Great post by the way.

      Amen.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  14. cg10

    I love this, here is a man that is showing you the how, meanwhile, everyone keep asking why or how come? When in fact the one word that people read and hear and just keep walking past is faith! If your faith is always tied to your selfish gains then perhaps God is saying to you why and howcome? Forget about the condition, or the situation you find yourself in but your why and how come may not be good enough especially if you don't have a relationship with Him, which is Himself God in case I lost you...... God has stepped in for me many times because I have a relationship with Him. Now what is your relationship with God, do you accept Him, don't worry he already knows.... Peace and Love folks.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      "If your faith is always tied to your selfish gains ..." You don't think winning a football game & scoring a huge salary ISN'T selfish gain?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      You can't have a relationship with a comic book character.

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

      Actually Anita Bleaujob, the only comic book characters are the non-believers who get stuck in carnal mode ... never to advance to His spiritual wisdom.

      Amen.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Actually

      "are the non-believers who get stuck in carnal mode ... never to advance to His spiritual wisdom."

      That's a lie and now you have sinned. How's that log doing in your eye, it seems to be getting bigger and bigger. No wonder you are so blind.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  15. Pmile

    It is not that God is "worried" about Footbal. For God never worries. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is limitless. He can answer a prayer on a football field just as he can answer a prayer on the other side of the world just teh same, at the same time, and with the same love. God answers prayers–big or small, if they are done with faith. IN this case, a football player is unashamed of His faith and is letting people know that the foundation to his success is His faith. IN the meantime, people complain about their problems, but tehy do not bother asking the only one who can help. Ask and you shall recieve, in Jesus name. Not because God is concerned about football, but because God is concerend about you and incvreasing your faith. Jesus Christ is Lord, in teh field and outside. So do not box Him in.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      "He is omnipotent and omnipresent."

      You forgot "nonexistent".

      December 12, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Jesus

      Why doesn't he ask for a cure to Cancer or a solution to World Hunger instead of selfishly asking to win completely meaningless football games?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Anita Bleaujob, you posted "He is omnipotent and omnipresent." You forgot "nonexistent".

      Answer: You act like someone did something to your cornflakes this morning.

      Amen.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • derp

      The funniest part of this whole thread is seeing heavenstupid type out the words Anita Bleaujob while obviously completely oblivious to the moniker.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Actually

      "The funniest part of this whole thread is seeing heavenstupid type out the words Anita Bleaujob while obviously completely oblivious to the moniker."

      It's why she can't get things through the filters either and why her version of the bible is so pathetic. LOL!

      December 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  16. sumxsdumb

    and anyone playing is not a christian.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  17. Ethan

    If Tebow was god's Quarterback, he'd be on the Saints. Ohhh wait, that great honor belongs to Drew Brees.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  18. TheRationale

    It pains me to know that some people actually believe not only in God, but that he takes sides in football games.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  19. sumxsdumb

    God is not interested in a stupid football game.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  20. Robyn Harris

    Absolutely, God is on Tebow's side.

    In fact, God often injures the players on the other team just so Tebow can win.
    What are a few broken bones, concussions, or internal bleeding compared to allowing God's choosen another victory.
    So God cheats, plays dirty, breaks the rules, but he makes the rules, so hey, its all good, right?

    Allāhu Akbar!

    December 12, 2011 at 11:28 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.