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Denver Christians mourn Tebow’s departure, say they’ll root from afar
Tim Tebow will now be "Tebowing" for the New York Jets.
March 21st, 2012
02:28 PM ET

Denver Christians mourn Tebow’s departure, say they’ll root from afar

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – When star quarterback Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos this week, Denver pastor Jim Mackey signed at the thought that Tim Tebow probably wouldn’t be wearing Broncos blue and orange next season. The Broncos don’t need two star quarterbacks and the New York Jets announced Wednesday that Tebow is now theirs.

“It was a topic of conversation last night,” Mackey said in a phone interview Wednesday, describing Tuesday night services at his Next Level Church.

“It is an emotional thing and a bit more emotional for people who have connected with Tebow’s expression of faith,” Mackey said. “Rather than just a QB controversy, which is not unique in the NFL, this does seem to have hit more of a personal nerve for those in the Christian community.”

Mackey’s church meets Tuesday nights, not Sunday mornings, because Mackey believes Sunday is a day for people to do Colorado things – skiing, hiking and Broncos games.

Tebow, who helped turn the bottom-dwelling Broncos into a playoff team last year, transcended sports with his overt professions of faith and his late game heroics, which led some to believe that God was on the young quarterback’s side.

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Throughout the season, Tebow’s jersey was flying off the racks and “Tebowing” – the act of getting down on one knee and praying while everyone around you does something else – became to be an internet meme and widely recognized symbol. Tebow quickly became the public face of FRS Company and Jockey; for months, it was hard to click on ESPN without hearing his name.

“Tim Tebow seems to have won the hearts of not only football fans in Denver but the people here at large,” said Rob Brendle, pastor at the evangelical Denver United Church. “One of the most exciting aspects of last season was that casual sports fans and those who aren’t even interested in football, like my wife, became captivated by the influence of Tim Tebow.”

“Around the water cooler and in church, there is sadness at the likelihood of his departure,” Brendle said, a few hours before the Jets announcement.

Though Tebow cashed in with endorsements, he also lent his face and celebrity to causes he believed in, many in the Denver area. Like many players, Tebow invited individual fans to his games. In his last game with the Broncos, a playoff face-off with quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Tebow hugged Kelly Faughnan, a 22-yard old female who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and whom the Tebow Foundation had invited to the game.

Brendle said that Tebow showed that you can be both good at sports and good at giving back.

“It is hard not to cheer for the Christian kid,” Brendle said.

Jim Daly, president of the Colorado Springs-based evangelical group Focus on the Family, teamed up with Tebow for antiabortion Super Bowl ad last year. The spot illustrated how comfortable Tebow is trumpeting his Christian beliefs, even on a polarizing issue.

“I think there is going to be this period of mourning for Tim Tebow’s departure,” Daly said. “I think that that affection that people have for Tebow goes well beyond Denver and his ability to play football.”

Daly says Focus still hopes to work with Tebow in the future.

“Regardless of where he is, he is a national celebrity and it would be great to work with him again – even if he is in New York,” Daly said.

Matthew Ware, Executive and Worship Pastor at Victory Church in Denver, said Tebow fans were hoping for the quarterback to stay local even after the Manning announcement.

“I think most people were hoping for a "both/and" instead of an "either/or" situation,” Ware said. “We love the idea that perhaps Manning could ‘disciple’ Tebow into greatness in the next few years.”

Many believers in Denver will now have to balance being a Broncos fan with rooting for a New York-based Tebow.

“Tebowmania has a magnetism and loyalty that's undeniable,” Ware said. “While most people will ultimately support their home team, once in a while a player comes along that wins your heart. Tebow is that kind of player. He'll have Denver fans no matter where he plays.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Colorado • Faith Now • New York • Sports • United States

soundoff (1,423 Responses)
  1. JoeJoe

    Said to see him go, big mistake in my eyes. But, Tebow will shine wherever he ends up. Good person that brings nothing to the table but positivity , AWESOME ! .

    March 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • JimmyG

      Whats the big mistake?? Replacing a quarterback with the lowest completion percentage in the NFL with a 4-time MVP or are you just going to miss the Broncos leading the league in three and outs?? Go Broncos, welcome Peyton.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  2. Mike

    Yawn...

    March 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  3. Silly Baggers!

    I am a Christian and a Broncos fan. I am so happy that we got Peyton and traded Tebow. This was a smart football desicion. Nothing more nothing less. The Tebowmaniacs seriously need to chill. If only they were half as classy as Tebow.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • MennoKnight

      Best reply so far.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Gina

    He has so inspired the people in Denver- God is sending him to NY- they need some more faith there!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • plucky

      Yes,
      1 more God believer in a sea of 11 million people will certainly balance the scales.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • JL

      Amen to that, some Christian values to combat the rainbow coalition

      March 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • yupreally

      You freaking people using your faith to excuse your "rainbow coalition" bigotry is disgusting. You are such hypocrites and every time I hear or read a comment like that it just makes me so much more grateful that I am not dumb enough to believe in any of these religions.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, JL, the thing they need is some good old time religion (rolls eyes)

      March 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  5. Angela

    Christian or no Tebow is s an excellent football player and as a Denver fan I've lost some faith in the Elway organization. Manning is an excellent player but he's a risk because of his injury. Denver bought him for his name. I just cannot understand why they would trade Tebow. Why trade a player who has shown a successful season for someone who is a health risk? Because it'll sell tickets. Lovely.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Wayne

      How can you call a qb with a passing completion % of under 50 percent a good football player?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Heywood

      Apparently, you know nothing about football.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  6. Not All Docs Play Golf

    This just in: Evangelist Billy Graham, Jr has just issued a Christian fatwah against Jimmy Fallon for finding humor in all this.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Joey

      Wasn't JImmy Fallon wonderful?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Not All Docs Play Golf

    This just in: Sarah Palin, inspired by Tebow, has just tried out to be a Jets cheerleader.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  8. 007guest

    it is sad to see that all he is in the nfl is the next circus freak. But I can't blame the media for running with it since he continues to show off for the cameras. Well the circus had to move on.......good luck jets. Bring on the pressure for Mark Sanchez. As if TRYING to be a great NFL QB was not enough, now he has the sideshow to worry about.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Tom

      I live in Denver and he always struck me as someone who knows how to play the media. He just uses religion as his gimmick. I am more impressed with the ones who go about their lives doing good, quietly.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  9. Sao

    spirit of manipulation on the rise.....

    March 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  10. Sao

    Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

    March 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Lou Cyfer

      "I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house down"- Mothergoose fairy tale, The Three Pigs. You do realize that there are some good contemporary fairy tales out there. You don't have to keep quoting from the bronze age fairy tale.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  11. shellie

    I am shocked to read all of these cynical, negative, crude and rude comments posted today about Tebow. I don't think these are Denverites. If you live in Colorado, you would know what a wonderful person Tebow is. Always optimistic, giving, and altruistic. While he does show his religious beliefs, he doesn't "push his religion" on anyone. He doesn't judge those of us who don't show our religious beliefs in public. He is being true to himself and his own beliefs. And he does more good in one day than most of us do in a year. He is an inspiration to us all. I will miss seeing stories about him on the local news in Colorado but am okay with him leaving. He will take his values and good deeds to NY where he will inspire others there. what he brings to this world is much more important than anything that happens on a football field.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Angela

      Amen. If people want respect they need to dish it out. I find it hard to believe that people who don't believe in God find it THAT offensive that someone else does and acts like it. It's not harming you in any way. These same people who are crying offense because the word God is in the National Anthem are the same people tearing away the rights of God-fearing people because it's "offensive" to be exposed to it. Why should one person lose their right just to appease a bunch of whiners?? If you don't like it change the channel.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Joey

      He's a dip. Glad he's in New York with the rest of the losers.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  12. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I, like many, grew up thinking the 3rd commandment (thou shall not take the name of the Lord they God in vain) referred to cursing. In reality, it means invoking God for personal gain...much like the plumber who puts the Christian fish symbol in his yellow pages ad to promote his business, or anyone who uses religion (politicians, anyone?) to promote themselves or gain from it. Many "Christian musicians" do this, getting rich selling Jesus rock music because they couldn't make it in pop. "Christian book stores" are a gold mine. Artist Thomas Kinkade used religion to promote his assembly-line art work to the naive. Or even an NFL football franchise trying to revive itself by hiring a popular religious evangelical fan-magnet. Jesus himself would call all of these "moneychangers in the temple."

    March 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • BRW11

      Dude, there is some truth to what you are saying but you are way out of context. Study to show yourself approved and then come back to what you are stating.

      Who are you to judge these people's motives? Can you judge and examine the heart? Can you clearly tell motives? Better yet, can you simply examine fruit and then judge?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • oh boy

      This is kinda funny. The same people that tell you that you can't judge what's in someone's heart will, in the next breath, tell you what God is thinking.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      BRW11...you sound like a poetic Bible thumper with an evangelical southern drawal standing behind a podium sweating and railing and drunk in the Lord.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • plucky

      I picture Jimmy Swaggart

      March 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  13. Melanie De Matte

    Bad writing ! Bad headline! Unless you actually interviewed a majority of Denver Christians you need to say "some Denver Christians..." Sloppy.... and inaccurate.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  14. Ruth

    Well, I have to say, since I am from Indiana that Peyton Manning is a very nice man and you will know that in the near future. The majority of the people in Indiana wanted Peyton HERE and not in Denver or anywhere else. I believe that Tebow was that same type of person. A very genuine nice human being. We can't always get what we want but as far as the person and not as the money maker for these teams they are both, in my eyes, men whom you can look up to.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      I hear they are loading up the Payton Manning Children's Hospital in Indy onto a trailor and taking it to Denver.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • nonconformist

      I feel for you Ruth. I thought that the Colts letting go of Peyton was pretty heartless. You cannot believe how thrilled I am that he's now a Bronco though. Good luck to the Colts on their rebuilding, it never seems to go as planned.

      It's ironic that the same owner who let go of Peyton Manning was the same owner whom John Elway refused to play for when he was initially drafted. Guess which one got to play out his entire career with one team?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  15. Wayne

    Tebow is an avatar of Jesus. The GOP version. That's why they love him.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Snoop

    I always find it so amazing that there are so many cruel people that have nothing better to do that to try to tear down the belief system that many people live by. These same people probably stand by the Santa at the mall and tell every child that there's no real Santa.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • oh boy

      It's cruel to educate an adult?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • leonid7

      HAHA, so you are actually equating God to Santa?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • serdich

      your religion is BS...

      March 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Audrey

      And I'm always amazed when someone who calls themselves a Christian has little tolerance for other people's beliefs and religions...

      March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      Snoop...expressing disbelief is not the same as "tearing down a belief system"

      March 22, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  17. Confused

    Where was all this religious sentiment with past NFL players who were openly devout, going so far as to hold prayers at the 50 yard line before games with members of both teams? And 'Tebow'ing wasn't done out of respect for Tim, it was to mock him.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  18. Nicole

    I don't like the spin here. I am not a Christian, but I love Tim Tebow. He is a truly good man who walks the walk. I live in Colorado and he brought me back to the Broncos. I will miss him!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  19. libfreak48

    I was under the impression that Christians were only supposed to worship God.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  20. Nathan_Brazil

    There is nothing sad about this at all. I am not particularly religious, but I respect his decisions and behavior. There is nothing wrong with people supporting him for his actions that are not related to football. Just as there is nothing wrong with people NOT supporting Michael Vick's actions no matter how good he is on the field. It's the whole person, not just any one aspect of them.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:21 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.