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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. Natattack

    Oh yes, because being a talented football player makes some one in to a "messiah." CNN, you disgust me. I am officially switching to Yahoo! News, typos and everything.

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

      You probably don't realize that you can run but can't hide from HIM!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Natattack

      Oh wow, Erik. You just opened my eyes with that bit of wisdom. I'm gonna go find the nearest church and start praying RIGHT NOW.

      ..that is sarcasm, btw, since I know God won't be helping you figure that out.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Earthling

      Well, Erik, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't waste my time running or hiding from a fictional character.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  2. Emilio

    Has CNN clambered aboard the coattails of the bizarre? CNN continues its decline into the incredible world of trivia and frothy nonsense.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Erik

      CNN can't be blamed for the 'frothy nonsense' that comes from fools!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  3. brian

    No, god does not exist

    December 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • pete

      That is your opinion numnuts

      December 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Earthling

      Wat to go, Pete – you have no way to show the validity of your opinion, so just call the other guy names and that makes you right.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  4. popcorn

    FOOTBALL and GOD and Make People worship Sport team as God...

    THAT'S .BLASPHEMY. WE GOT 2012 MAYAN. God would flush your world!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Critical

      Now this takes crazy to a whole new level.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  5. greg

    Are you guys crazy. If he cant throw for 300 yards per game, he will not win many games. The defense is being over worked because he can't put points on the board. He will need to become a pocket passer and then he will put up more points and be more effective running the ball as he will be a dual threat. He plays like a fullback and in the pros everyone can hit, so he wont last two years.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mike

      Tewbow will win more games, with Tebow playing we are controlling the clock. That does two things for the Broncos, 1) the opponents offense is off the field and unable to score and 2) it keeps the Bronco's defense OFF the field and not overworking them. Scoring lots of points does not win games, scoring more points than you opponent does. Yes Tebow may not ever be the greatest passer in the game but he does bring many other things to a team that has won 6 in a row.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  6. aginghippy

    Tebow is no different than most Christians, so I don't understand all of the attention he's getting. Christians pray for a better job or a promotion, thinking that THEIR requests will be heard, while millions of American children go to bed hungry. They pray that God will protect them from harm, ignoring the fact that good Christians are r@ped, robbed and murdered every day. Even our leaders ask God's help in vanquishing our "enemies", actually believing that Christianity is the one true religion, so, naturally, God will assist us in killing millions of Muslims. Never mind that the Muslims are equally convinced that Allah wants them to vanquish US!
    Religion is based on the false premise that humans are special life forms endowed with a "soul", whose every insignificant life moment is overseen and influenced by a magic, wish granting deity in the sky. It's all primitive bronze age mythology which we should have left in the ancient past.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Religion

      Do athletes curse God when they lose? After all, they praise God when they win, so it is only logical to curse him when they lose right?

      "I would like to take the time, Jim, to just say I curse God for this current loss. Without his interference we would have won that game. I place the blame squarely on God and that damned kicker too."

      December 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Steve

      Well Stated

      December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Robb

      aginghippy...how would you know what christians pray about as that it is just a personal conversation between them and the man upstairs? And christian may ask for help in their personal life but will not hold it against God if deliverance is not had. Likewise, there are horrible things that happen in this world but we, as mere humans, can not compromise his plan...and his plan is perfectly good. Also, while we pray for help in defeating our enemies, I would be most happy if this "defeat" came in the form of a peaceful negotiation and definitely NOT the killing of millions of muslims. And Jesus put it simply when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the light, and no one will see heaven, except through me." While I believe there are elements of fantastic truths in just about every religion, INCLUDING Islam...the only way to heaven is through Christ. Simply put, hard to deliver on. Best

      December 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Robb

      Religion and steve, you might be surprised to hear it but our prayers in high school and college sports went like this:
      Dear Lord, We would like to thank you for the opportunity that we have to compete and would like to honor those who can not be here with us to share in this moment. Thank you for keeping us safe and free from injury. Amen

      Thats what went down no matter if we won or lost and IF someone got injured we didnt curse God for the misfortune but simply prayed for a swift recovery. And Religion if your previous post is what passes for logic...I suggest you read a book or something.

      Im tired of people ranting unchecked and unchallenged about how Christianity and Religion are so horrible and they are to blame for all the war and conflict in this world and then fail to recognize how in EVERY city and almost EVERY country it is the CHURCHES and christians that are feeding the poor and providing comfort for the sick and providing for those less fortunate. That simple fact gets overlooked every time someone opens their mouth to bash christianity.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • No

      Robb, how could you know god's plan is perfectly good if we can't comprehend it? This is all psychobabble.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • aginghippy

      Robb, One anecdote from you about the nature of your team's prayers hardly negates the fact that everyone from Tebow on the football field, to rappers at music awards, think God wanted THEM to be successful, and accordingly, wanted EVERYONE ELSE to lose.
      You claim that because some Christian charities do good works, that everyone doing equally good works must all be Christians. There are numerous secular people and organizations who help the less fortunate. Some so-called Christian charities are corrupt. And let's not forget, that most of the giving comes with a hefty dose of bible preaching and conversion from the recipients' "inferior beliefs", to the only true and righteous religion: Christianity.
      I don't really bash members of any particular religion, so much as I dare to point out the fact that ALL religion causes people to abandon common sense, inhibit science and dare to influence the lives of everyone in society, even those who do not share their beliefs, by passing laws which conform to THEIR idea of morality. If not for religious dogma, there would be little or no "gay bashing". If not for religious nonsense, the abortion issue would be moot. You can't deny that the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the result of religious fanaticism on both the Muslim AND Christian sides. We have republican presidential hopefuls who believe that THEIR God wants them to be president, in no small part because they believe that America is a "Christian nation", beloved by a God who wants and expects us to spread democracy and Christianity around the globe. Bush called Muslim nations the "axis of evil", for pity sake!
      You can deny it all you want, but my strong conviction is that a huge percentage of conflict, suffering and death in this world is the direct result of religion.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  7. Francis

    Tebow has said himself that he doesn't think God cares about who wins a football game- and I have found Tebow to be really no more or less weird about praying to Jesus than any other Christian on the planet. The media is injecting him more into this conversation than even he is. I'm an atheist with no agenda and an Eagles fan and I like Tebow just fine. No problems with him at all. I think people need to back off the guy.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  8. sasquatch

    by the way, what are ancestors called gods were really just Aliens. If you dont see this, you are an idiot. There is no such thing as magic.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  9. jimmie

    jk

    December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  10. Philip F

    This is a really dumb question. Why would God care about who wins or loses a football game? There are more important things for him to care about.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • sasquatch

      Him? lol...ok.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Critical

      If such an omnipotent creature such as what you reference as "god" were to exist....it would definately not care about a bunch of torch waving backward thinking mammals on a dust spec in a third world solar system located in the backwaters of the Milky Way which is itself, the Detroit of galaxies. But, whatever helps you sleep.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  11. OHPlease...

    It's simple rational logic. A god would have to exist to make this happen. Since a (any) deitiy is a mythological empty fairly tale it can have no physical impact on anything. Tebow's invocation of his mythology and proselytizing is completely inappropriate for this venue. There are many places he can go to witness, testify or whorl as a dervish as he pleases, but he should refrain from polluting the air waves and spewing that meaningless, and offensive, rhetoric where I have to hit mute anytime he appears. I don't go into his church to tell him what a fool he is, he shouldn't come into my living room and try to convert me.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  12. steme

    Yes, god loves all successful athletes that live perfect lives and play silly games once a week for wealth and fame. Ive dedicated my life to watching this teenager run around in circle while other men chase him. May our lord Jesus Christ help mr tebow to throw the dead pig flesh to the other man in time so he can score a sweet touchdown. Amen.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  13. jimmie

    my boy tebow go win the super bowl aye.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  14. sasquatch

    Being that the Buccaneer home games are blacked out, I dont care.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Erik

      Didn't you guys win not too long ago? did you hear what Dungy had to say when they won?

      December 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  15. cj

    Obviously god loves him more than he loves everyone else on the teams they beat. When they lose god must have been busy organizing a one genocide or another so the sinners could learn the error of their ways.

    Sunday is after all his day of rest and what better war to rest than enjoying a football game and orchestrating the death of thousands?!

    December 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  16. keyser

    So why would this god intervene in a football game? And if this god was going to intervene why would this god even allow the game at all in as much as the outcome would already be predetermined? For my part I think that religious display always hides the face of a scoundrel.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  17. kiki

    Honestly, CNN is the new 'Onion' only not as funny.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Satan

      True.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • cj

      Please remove the 'as' from your post and do it over. Thank you.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  18. E-Dogg

    God is on the side of anyone that confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. God is available to everyone not just Tim Tebow. God is not a respector of persons, but he is a respector of faith. Everyone's faith level is different. Tim Tebow is not the only Christian on the football field but he seems to be one of the most thankful people I have seen in sports this year. He is going to give God praise whether he wins or not. Its seem to me that he is desiring to be a true witness for Christ first, and winning comes second. I was not a Tim Tebow fan when he was at Florida, but I cant help but root for him now.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Religion

      Replace "God" with "Allah" in the above drivel and all the fundies will be screaming in outrage.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Critical

      Or replace "god" with "Zeus" or "Thor" and they would think he is crazy. Amazing isn't it?

      December 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • E-Dogg

      Sorry Religion, Can't do that. Jesus Christ is my lord and I am proud of it.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Earthling

      God is a fictional character. Jesus was a carpenter who was also (probably) a pretty nice guy. However, he's been dead for a couple thousand years, so he's not particularly relevant any more.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  19. Earthling

    What a bunch of nonsense. Tebow inspires his teammates to believe in themselves, and confidence plays a huge part in the quality of individual performance. Look at what happened to Tiger Woods when his confidence balloon was popped. To ascribe the recent success of the Broncos to some imaginary higher power is completely ridiculous.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  20. TTB

    Seriously people! You post gay news, profanity news and comments without blinking an eye. But mention GOD and you would think a crime is commited. If you can talk about the gay rights and cuss on commercials etc. then he and we have every right to declare our faith in public.
    You should be praising GOD that he created you and you can get up everyday and complain about or write about your opinions.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Erik

      Well said!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Critical

      Umm...TTB...get off your self righteous high horse for a second and think about what you just said. You are correct, you do have the right to declare your faith in public...but you also have the same right to be ridiculed as the people you mentioned that I am guessing you do NOT agree with by voicing your faith in public. What is ironic is that you are probably the same type of religious right wing nut who spouts venom at gay, transgender, or alternative lifestyle folks and then you act all butt hurt in these forums for atheists and agnostics taking pot shots at you. What is the old saying that applies here? If you cannot take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

      That being said, god, jesus, the bible are all mythology but like ancient Greek and Norse mythology, the tall tales inspire some lesser minded folks into performing above expectations. This is what is happening. Tebow the football player is good. If he believes the boogey man is helping him each weekend, then more power to him. In the end, he is just playing a game.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Natattack

      No thanks, I think I'd rather praise evolution for my creation and the coupling of two idiot teenagers twenty-three years ago. And the reason people are up in arms about "God" is because we're tired of having Jesus shoved down our throat where ever we go, INCLUDING football.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Religion

      God didn't create me. My Mother and Father did. You fundie lunatics are going to be the cause of the end of the world.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Earthling

      Using the word "seriously" to begin your post is somewhat disingenuous when you end it with a recommendation to give thanks to a fictional character for a natural process. If you want to accept bronze-age mythology instead of reality, go ahead – but don't expect rational people to follow suit.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
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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.