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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. CC in KY

    It's called FAVOR, God gives his children...... FAVOR, Tebow clearly has it & it's clear to see! Praise the Lord 🙂

    December 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • D. Darko

      Hey there Nutty – I guess that's why people all over the world are being subjected to the worst brutalities – they've been praying hard, but Tim Tebow is better at praying. God likes his glory delivered to him in endzones, so Tim gets the glory – millions around the world get the shaft. Koo koo, koo koo.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Crazies

      What kind of nutbar church teaches that?! Are you kidding me? So you just pray real hard, ask for stuff and viola, God delivers like Santa. Pullease.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • HellBent

      Good parents don't play favorites. Then again, anyone reading the bible would necessarily conclude that the christian god isn't a very good parent.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Aimee Robinette

      I just don't understand all this. Tim Tebow is winning because that's what he is a winner. He just so happens to be a football player who believes in Jesus Christ. He is not the first nor will he be the last. It is equally his right to show that faith as it is for someone to type a comment about how much they don't believe in God. If Tebow loses to Brady, then will you suddenly say God isn't favoring Tebow anymore? Of course you will, just as sure as you are saying that God doesn't exist. If he loses to Brady, it is because Brady is a fantastic QB, not because he is the devil's own. Not at you CC in KY.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  2. Tebow Fan

    Tebow is a humble guy who is a good football player that loves Jesus. God blesses those who live right and respects his commandments. That doesn't mean God is winning any game. But it just might mean that he is being blessed for living a righteous life.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • nympha

      My take on it, as well.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • D. Darko

      You people make no sense whatsoever. How many people have prayed to God over the millenium, only to suffer the fate they were hoping to prevent by praying to God. But yet here we have a FOOTBALL PLAYER, who apparently gets answered. Because of course, out of all the billions of galaxies in the universe, God has decided that Tim Tebow should have success on the football field. You people are just scary stupid, yet arrogant at the same time. Warped people, that's definitely what you are.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Joe T.

      What blessing are you talking about? Being a good athlete is God's blessing because he lives a righteous life? So I guess people who aren't athletes or who are in poor health just aren't righteous enough.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Lee

      God blesses all of his children, not just those that believe the hardest. He doesn't award more glory to those that believe more. There are people who believe yet live very different lives than this football player (sickness, poverty, etc). Do you believe God is punishing them for some reason? No. He has a reason for everything; but doesn't play favorites to those that pray harder.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Douglas

      You may want to see the doc so he can adjust your anti-psychotic meds.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  3. Douglas

    I'm not sure which is more ridiculous... the very notion of your imaginary God, or the suggestion that he's concerned about the outcome of a football game. Really, CNN, this is the last straw.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Aimee Robinette

    This has nothing to do with being God's player. Tim Tebow has a belief and he has no trouble discussing it. He is not the first nor will he be the last player in the NFL to be a Christian or to thank God before, during or after a game. Tebow is leading a team, but he has no fantasies about it being all him. Quite the contrary, he gives credit to God, then his teammates. He doesn't seek the glory, the media just gives it to him because they don't understand why he is such a winner and they just want to try and tear him down. The Broncos are winning, and that's all that matters. And if they lose to the mighty Tom Brady, well, then the powers that be will think they are justified in saying Tebow can't play in the NFL when other more seasoned quarterbacks lose to Brady all the time.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  5. Bev

    Much more important than football (sorry guys) is the orphanage that Tebow has opened in the Philippines – He is choosing to take his success and use it to help others – those who are not able to help themselves.
    He chooses to display his faith openly and not be ashamed. It is nice to point out to our kids a POSITIVE role model in the sporting world. Maybe it will help others who are Christians to stand up and be counted and not let the players who openly display their selfish, egotistical lives grab all the headlines.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • nympha

      That's really neat! I wasn't aware of that info. The Philippines is a tough place live for those kids.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Crazies

      You don't have to be a Christian to have good character and be a strong role model for others. And likewise plenty of big C christians do not at all reflect the core beliefs of their religion and do not at all act as Jesus would. Too many Christians showing their lack of compassion much of the time in the politicians and polices they support- pro gun, pro military, and oftimes being unwilling to support the disadvantaged or even believe in the right of good medical care for everyone regardless of income.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  6. Sarah

    Yeah, god has nothing better to do than help a quarterback win a game. It's not like there are starving children, murders, crime, and morality he could be working on...

    December 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • AcertnChristian

      You seem a little self-righteous. Have you ever lied? Stolen? or looked with lust? Then you too are a sinner (lieing, adulterous, thief) just like the rest of us. God can save you too but you have to see that you have a problem (a sin problem).

      December 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • D. Darko

      @AcertnChristian: He's not being self-righteous at all. He's pointing out just how warped your philosophy is. What he is saying is that, if there is a God, why would God decided to help out a rich and famous QB win a GAME, while millions, if not billions, suffer all over the world. Do you get it? Or will you blindly keep defending your faith?

      December 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Rapp

      Actually, a brief read of the book Tebow believes in shows that God works through us to help the hungry and downtrodden. It seems he is working through someone like Tebow with the orphanage. What is He doing through you?

      December 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Aimee Robinette

      Don't you have something better to do with your time, like sending money to aid those in need or volunteering your time at a shelter instead of arguing about what you perceive as the lack of God in the world? If there is a lack of God in the world today it is because man has asked Him to step out, certainly not the other way around.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • D. Darko

      Sorry, Sarah is a she.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  7. M. Roy

    You can't see air...but it's there and we need it to survive. GOD IS HERE also. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist!

    December 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Sarah

      But I can perform chemical tests to see that there is Oxygen in the "air"... can you test to see if God is there?

      December 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Lee

      It's called faith Sarah. It's tested all the time.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • AndyB

      Seeing isn't believing. Observing is. There is no way to observe god so there is no reason to believe he exists.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Crazies

    Just wow. Why are American Christians so repeatedly dumb? This isn't a debate between the religious and the atheists, it is simply an issue of American's lacking basic critical thinking skills.

    You can be deeply spiritual and religious and not for a moment be dumb enough to assume something you don't understand has to be the work of God. Why on earth would God be involving him or herself in football!?

    This isn't physics, its about sport and humans...unlike physics, you may not understand or be able to predict exact outcomes of cause and effect. That sure doesn't mean its God, but simply psychology. Big whoop.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • D. Darko

      I agree. I think these people are flat out warped. Anyone who believes a book that was written when mankind understood very little about their surroundings are not critical thinkers at all. Religion is a socio-psychological defense mechanism that societies developed to give them hope against a world that was very cruel to them, and which they understood very little of. If God exists, then he exists also in the very furthest galaxies. I wonder if they play football there? And if so, do they play world football or American football. Or, maybe there's an alien playing their version of football somewhere, and he's also favored by this sports loving God. Absurdium Maxiumus.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  9. Synapse

    FORTUNE is on Tebow's side. Like the Bears running back's end-of-game fumble, last night.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  10. Justin

    Reminds me of when people go 'yea god saved me from cancer or ' ignoring the fact that without that medical treatment they got they would of died and no 'god' would of saved them then.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Crazies

      I really dislike when folks make these kind of attributions. One is it only seems to come when 'good things' happen...God is responsible for the good, but no where to be found for the bad huh? And where was God when he could have stopped you from getting cancer in the first place?

      Second it inadvertently blames those who didn't have the same good fortune...as if those who didn't win, didn't not get better, died, just did not pray enough or did not believe enough. I don't believe this is what they mean to convey but they do.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • James

      Justin what about the cancer patients that have been diagnosed but never had any treatment and it is gone? God plays many different roles in our life and sometimes we can not explain it.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  11. Dura ace

    Yes, because God has nothing better to than watch football. This is ridiculous. If God is on the Broncos side, they probably don't need to wear helmets either.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Cathy

      ***** Well said!

      December 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  12. Lee

    I would be very disappointed if God is truly spending any time or energy on manipulating a football game.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  13. Jarod47

    Am I to understand that all the teams that try to win games against Tim Tebow in the coming weeks are going to hell, because they then must surely be angering Tim's deity. And will the other teams be eternally damned when they are going to pray for victory in the light of this 'miracle'.
    Or is it better to never publish these nonsensical articles again?

    December 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Aimee Robinette

      I think your remark is just a hate against Christians. I am sorry for whatever has happened in your life that has made you so bitter towards a particular faith. Tim Tebow is winning because he has faith in the abilities God has given Him and a team that believes in him and themselves. No one will go to hell for something as stupid as playing against Tebow. They will go to hell for not believing in Jesus Christ.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  14. adam.baumgarten@macquarie.com

    I can't wait until they start losing, and blame it on the devil.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  15. Nana4859

    What would it say about this particular god if he really DID work his magic on a football game while children in Africa are starving to death, mothers of young children are dying of cancer at a young age, fathers are losing jobs and are unable to provide for their families, floods and earthquakes and famine are overtaking entire areas? This is a guy you would want to "worship and praise"????

    December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Thank you Nana, you said it perfectly.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Lenny08

    While I'm unable to tell you how old the earth is, the universe is and how we know these things, I'm quite able to tell you about the personality nuances of the almighty being who created it all – his marital status, the books he's authored, his view on gay marriage and of course his interest in American-style football.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  17. M. Roy

    If athiest' don't believe in God, why are many of them reading this article about Tebow?? I mean, if I don't like something on tv or an article that has something in the headlines I don't like, I'm not going to read it. Fascinating how they all come out of the woodwork to give their two cents worth when nobody really cares what you think anyways. If you don't believe in God that's your right, but HE believes in you! Hopefully one day you will see the light and not be blinded by your own understanding.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Jarod47

      I first read things and then decide whether I like it or not. I don't see how you can judge an article without reading it.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • D. Darko

      Question for you and all: Which is worse? The fact that Tim Tebow is a mediocre, yet lucky QB. Or the fact that he's the anti-christ. I put it to you, semi-Christian nation!

      December 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Nana4859

      Atheists tend to be thinking people who seek out ALL sides to the story and reach reasoned, logical conclusions. We read these stories because we do not believe in buying ONE explanation merely because it is what we were taught when we were too young to understand and think for ourselves. The fact that you admit to "not reading" or "watching" something because the headline disagrees with your narrow view of the world is exactly the what the problem is with a strict religious outlook. You avoid and condemn anything that might disprove your pre-confirmed notions. Why not try exposing yourself to ALL sides of the question, learn as much as you can about everything you can....THEN make an intelligent, reasoned, fact-based decision about it. Get your head out of the sand and use your head.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Ally

      I read articles about things I like and things I don't like. I try to stay informed. If I only read articles that talked about things I agree with I'd fall behind rather quickly....don't you think?

      December 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Max

      It's not that God is somehow answering their prayers (I suppose it's possibly, but highly unlikely), it's that faith itself imbues the believer with a powerful sense of confidence that, I believe, relives some tension and anxiety in the player. When an athlete has supreme confidence, his nerves are more relaxed and his body is more fluid. He has less adrenaline, which means better brain functioning and decision making. More oxygen in the frontal lobe. Better decision making = better performance. It's science folks...

      December 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Joe T.

      You remind me of the one leader at the church I used to go to (don't go to church anymore) when I questioned the beliefs I've been taught since I was a baby. Using logic and reasoning, I laid it out on the table why the religion I was a part of was a load of crap. He told me, "You are too smart for your own good." I don't see how using logic and reasoning is a bad thing but you seem to think we should all have some sort of blind devotion to what equates to a giant myth and fraud.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  18. closetiguana

    It just not possible without a god.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • D. Darko

      Well, glad to know you have the Cosmos figured out. I feel better already.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • closetiguana

      D. Darko- I'm talking about Tim Tebow and his team's come-from-behind victories not being possible without a god (and I'm being sarcastic)

      December 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  19. AcertnChristian

    The world could use another friendly Athiest like Hitler. If the United States was founded on Athieism we would be even more so in a sad state.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • nooneknows

      hmmm, how about the crusades and the inquistiion?

      There has been more death and destruction "in the name of god" than anything else.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • closetiguana

      AcertnChristian- Hitler was a Christian not an atheist. Google image: Hitler and the Cardinal.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • D-man5005

      @nooneknows, this is true, but nobody said that people are perfect, let alone some of the hundreds of thousands of religions out there. on the other hand though, there have been many amazing things done in the name of God, and founding founding the United States was one of them. Look at what all of the founding fathers have said, and you'll find that most if not all of them attribute everything that happened to God.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • TBN

      Hitler refereed to himself as a Christian... What atheist mass murderer killed in the name of atheism? The religious mass murderers usually kill in the name of their religion.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • brett

      Hitler was a Christian. Learn your history and stop drinking your Pastor's kool-aid. And btw, invoking Hitler in an argument is completely amateur and juvenile.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Cardinals? I thought those birds are only found in North America...

      December 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Seriously

      You know Hitler was Catholic right... idiot

      December 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • closetiguana

      PraiseTheLard- No, I'm talking about the religious leaders...oh man.. you got me....you got me ...good one...only in North America.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • AcertnChristian

      Alot of people claim to be a Christian but in reality are not. You will know a tree by thier friut hello! Hitler was not a Christian even though he may have claimed to be one. The devil appears as an angel of light too. Dont be fooled peeps.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Actually

      "Alot of people claim to be a Christian but in reality are not. You will know a tree by thier friut hello! Hitler was not a Christian even though he may have claimed to be one. The devil appears as an angel of light too. Dont be fooled peeps."

      You're the one that was fooled idiot.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • closetiguana

      AcertnChristian- Here we go again, Christians moving the goal posts. "just because the bible claims the sun and the heavens revolves around the earth doesn't mean it does".

      Whatever, keep your eyes closed and it'll be all over soon.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • HellBent

      @AcertnChristian

      Please google the no true scottsman fallacy – because you just committed it. Don't you find it a little convenient that you can just disown anyone who doesn't behave as you think a christian should? Convenient, but wrong.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  20. nooneknows

    What is with you people?
    It's my invisible pink unicorn that is really helping the Broncos to win.
    Tebow thinks he's praying to something else, but my unicorn is hijacking those prayers.
    Really. You can't "prove" that I am wrong; therefore, I must be right.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • ALL TRUTH

      yup, I agree

      December 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • AndyB

      Invisible pink unicorn? That's as silly as a flying spaghetti monster. Everyone knows that victory comes from being washed in the holy brew of Russel's Teapot.

      December 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
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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.