'Tebowing' prayer stirs debate, but quarterback is OK with it
November 9th, 2011
01:16 PM ET

'Tebowing' prayer stirs debate, but quarterback is OK with it

By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) - Tim Tebow is used to being a lightning rod. While he was the quarterback at the University of Florida, he drew a lot of attention. And we mean a lot.

He won the Heisman Trophy (the only sophomore to ever win the award), and his team won two NCAA football titles. Plus, he was very public about his Christian faith. He wore Bible verses on his eye black. He invoked God frequently at news conferences.

No one doubted that Tebow was a great college quarterback and a good kid. But all the media attention made some people weary of the name.  He's good, they said, but he's no messiah.

Being a great college quarterback doesn’t always translate into being a good pro quarterback and, let’s be honest, there are more than a few people taking great glee from the second-year player's recent struggles with the Denver Broncos.

And even some of Tebow's better moments on the field are sowing controversy. During an October 23 contest against the winless Miami Dolphins, the Broncos trailed until a last-minute touchdown and two-point conversion by Tebow tied the score. Denver won in overtime.

Afterward, Jared Kleinstein, a Denver-born Broncos fan who was watching the game from New York, noticed that Tebow had knelt in prayer, alone on the sidelines, while his teammates celebrated on the field.

Kleinstein decided to take a picture outside the New York bar where he had gathered with friends. Six of them knelt on their knees with their balled-up right fists to their faces, Tebow-style.

Kleinstein started a website, www.tebowing.com, defining Tebow as a verb: “To get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.” His photo was the first one posted.

More photos came in from around the world. People Tebowed from the Philippines, the Vatican, Iraq, even in front of the Great Pyramid. They Tebowed at the airport, at the hospital, even at an "Occupy Chicago" protest. As of Tuesday,  Kleinstein had posted more than 600 photos on his site.

Tebow, for his part, approves. “Love it,” he wrote on Twitter.

But did he love it when Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch sacked him in an October 30 game and proceeded to “Tebow?”

“He was celebrating and having fun with his teammates. I don’t take offense to that,” Tebow said during a session with the media last week.

Tebow, who has started three games for the 3-5 Broncos, does not shy away from criticism of his quarterbacking - or of his faith. The son of missionaries, he embraces his spotlight to draw attention to his Christianity. He and his mother appeared in a Focus on the Family anti-abortion ad that appeared during the Super Bowl in February.

That kind of faith-based boldness separates Tebow from other religious sports figures. His more public displays hearten supporters and enrage detractors.

Some commentators, like ESPN.com writer Jemele Hill, think making sport of Tebow's beliefs is offensive. She writes of Tulloch's Tebowing pose:

Prayer is a sacred component of any religion. Making fun of someone else's spiritual connection is on par with ridiculing them about their family. You don't have to be a Christian to get that, just someone who understands the concept of respect.

Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, a Christian, says there is some jealousy of Tebow among other NFL players. But he doubts the Lions were making fun of the quarterback, even though another player Tebowed after scoring a touchdown during the same game against Denver, a 45-10 rout.

“I don’t believe people are saying, 'I am going to mock his faith,'" Dungy said on his website, All Pro Dad.

Former NFL quarterback Phil Simms isn’t surprised that other players want a piece of a player who is new to the league and whom the media obsesses over.

“They want to see you [succeed] on the field first,” Simms said in a video on Sports Illustrated’s website.

Tebow acknowledges that some who have sent their pictures into the Tebowing website are making fun of him and some are mocking religion. But he told the Denver Post he prefers not to judge anyone. He told reporter Lindsay H. Jones:

"It's not my job to see people's reasons behind it, but I know (of a kid) with cancer that tweeted me, 'Tebowing while I'm chemoing' — how cool is that? That's worth it right now. If that gives him any encouragement or puts a smile on his face, or gives him encouragement to pray, that's completely awesome."

What do you think? Are people being disrespectful of religion by Tebowing? Was Tebow asking for it?

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Celebrity • Colorado • Prayer • Sports

soundoff (799 Responses)
  1. Tensai 13

    How will sports spectators react when a Muslim football player gives thanks to Allah every time he (or she) scores a point?
    What unbelievable egotism from the religiously deluded.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • teammike03

      let's see, freedom to express yourself, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. i think that says it all, so if it bothers you that much, that's just tough sh&t, turn the frigin channel and then go get a life.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ed

      I've seen some give thanks to Allah didn't bother me a bit

      November 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ed

      in fact it seems to bother the Ateist far morethe members of different faiths

      November 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • teammike03

      my post above was not meant to be a reply to tensai 13's post. i didn't realize i selected reply. .

      November 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I can't disagree with you Tensai 13 (13! Dan Marino, not HE was a QB!) however, as stupid as it is to believe God cares about a game (or that there even is a God) athletes still do. So as long as they keep it VERY short and sweet I can live with it.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Old dude

      How fragile you atheists are! How easily offended! Yet you feel free to make pointless insults directed at those with whom you disagree.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Shane

      Some of you here need to "occupy" your brains. This Tebow guy is making a spectacle of himself to supposedly inspire others to pray or think of god. What a joke. Why is it that you religious jobs always feel the need to drag others into your way of thinking? If you want to believe in a fluffly little place called heaven and a guy in a red suit and a pitchfork, that's fine, but don't bother me with that book of fables. And contrary to the idiotic comments below, I am very happy WITHOUT religion.

      November 10, 2011 at 3:03 am |

    rtsuetykhkftu nrtyhtrs

    November 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      OK enough with the speaking in tongues. Now get your silly A-ss off the floor before you put somebody's eye out.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Old dude

      OK Alien. I laughed at this one. 🙂

      November 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  3. mccrow

    I think it is the ultimate in narcissism for Tim Tebow to think that God really cares about whether or not he scores a touchdown.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Steve in PA

      It's not about God caring about a touchdown. One who has faith in God understands the priorities in life and football is just a game and profession. The act is one of giving glory to God for giving him the life he leads to be able to be a professional athlete and he is serving God in what he does. Many other athletes do the same when they score a touchdown or hit a homerun by pointing to the sky. Hey, good on him for having the character to follow through with his beliefs. Kids need more role models in the sports arena today.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • hippypoet

      steve... i think kids need role models that don't believe in fairy tails... i think children need to be told the truth about alot more often then not! The fact is most people lie to there kids all the while teaching them not to lie! You ever heard of santa... is that a lie? Parents are also teaches and teachers should follow the lesson they set or they aren't teachers at all! God is something if they choose to believe that load of garbage, fine, but let them make the choice and not be feed YOUR beliefs from day 1... thats called brainwashing!

      November 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Rob Long

      God does care if Tim scores a TD, or if he is hurt, or if he shares his faith with someone. Thats the power of God to know ALL. Tim never goes around telling anyone he is better because of his faith, he merely shares how his faith has brought blessings upon his life. If you are angry at him for that, then you deserve all of the love and compassion Tim Tebow and GOD has for you. Ponder how Tim has peace and joy in his life when people are laughing at him and condemning him like some people on this board and then ask yourself (if youre one of those people) why are you so hateful and angry and what does Tim have that you dont. One answer, everlasting life from God. Love not hate, peace not anger or fear.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Rob Long, what religion are you describing again?

      Also, does God know all? Does he know when we will be born and when we will die? Thanks.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • CNN


      November 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  4. dawn fletcher

    God 1st everything else pales in comparison prayer moves mountains

    November 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      What mountain has prayer moved? What evidence do you have that prayer has ever done anything? It is easy to prove that prayer does nothing. In fact it is so easy, you can use the same evidence to prove that God does not exist.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Prayer works. Of course it works. One time I prayed that my shoe would be tied and then BAM my mom walked over and told me that I would trip over myself if I didn't tie my shoes so I bent over and tied them (I mean, my prayer must have gotten my mom to come over to tell me to tie my shoe, cus god only helps those who help themselves right?)

      Praise Ze- I mean God! He is wise and just and answeres all prayers.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Prayer doesn't do anything, he can Pray ( and believe) until he is green but if he doesn't preform well he is off the team. He is there not because of any God but because of his own ability that He worked hard to master, God didn't just "Bless" him with the ability, he is that good only because the work he put in.

      His beliefs makes no difference, it's only his commitment to his profession that makes the difference. If he did not believe but still put in the work he would still be there, it does not work the other way, Prayer without work is meaningless, work without prayer is significant for success.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I guess we can add "dawn" to the Christian drive by list.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Doris

      One Christmas my wayward brother was missing. He was kind of wild and we would lose contact with him because of his life style. Anyway, we got together and prayed for him. He showed up a week later, telling us about how he had been in jail in Mexico on a pot charge and one of the guards had promised to kill him the next time he had a chance. Long story short, the day we prayed for him a compassionate guard, saved his life and let him go. Sadly, he is an atheist. But the rest of us arent.

      November 10, 2011 at 3:15 am |
    • tallulah13

      Christian parents with terminally ill children pray all the time, but most of those children die anyway. Why did god think your guilty brother deserved a chance to dodge a criminal charge, but ignore the heartfelt pleas of the desperate parents of innocent children? Either your god is a total jacka$$ that enjoys the suffering of children, or he's a petty jerk or he doesn't exist.

      November 10, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  5. BW

    People may mean it in a disrespectful way but who cares . He doesn't care.He loves God & is not trying to please people. He did it for an audience of One: the Lord Jesus.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Nancy

    Love it that Tebow can be so cool and nonjudgemental. That shows his truth inside and out and Tebowing is such a compliment. I am impressed.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      "I am impressed."
      It doesn't take much for you, hmm?
      Tebowing is an adorable way of self-identifying as A) a religiously deluded fool, or B)sSomeone who thinks a religiously deluded fool is worth emulating.
      I'll go with C) Mocking the religiously deluded!

      November 10, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  7. chris r

    The first few comment shows that people are very ignorant! he is not kneeling because he's asking God to win a game the man is giving praise for the ability to be there, the other players & fans. its a shame we live in a society that can do nothing but look down on people. as you sit there judging everyone you need to make sure your on home & affairs is in order. Good bless everyone.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  8. Buddy

    It's called kneeling or genuflecting. And, yes it is offensive when someone fakes it and is disrespectful. Let the heretics and blasphemers burn in hell for eternity. They'll figure it out, but then it may be too late. I should have played Tebow in my fantasy league instead of Brady last week. Good job against the Raiders last week. I hope he does the same thin against KC.

    November 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ed

      I agree they are being disrepectful but really we should just ignore them the ignorance is not worth out time or Tebow's I think he handled it well

      November 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  9. Stevo

    I am surprised at how well Tim Tebow responds to any mocking or criticism. I think that shows his faith probably more so than the praying since Christ taught to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." I am a Christian, but I know that I would struggle to respond with the maturity that Tebow shows.

    November 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Soundwave

      Tolerance is love. Tebow is living what he has been taught about his wonderful faith. If every Christian lead by their actions instead of their words we wouldn't have Atheist. We are the reason they exist. We must be better and Tebow is a prime example of how we should all be.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  10. Amenhotepstein

    It's not so unusual. Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Buffalo Bills also does that pose. Of course, HE'S just making an homage to Rodin's "The Thinker". See what a Harvard education'll get ya'?

    November 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i have been to that museum, i have seen the thinker – its awesome....but the david is so much bigger then i thought.. oh wait i think i might be confused with the Louvre... well i have been to both, both are awesome – i even touched napoleon's throne... i nearly got caugth too! it was the rush and i just had to touch it... like i got some of him in me when i did – i don't know.. i just had to!

      November 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  11. walkin

    Had a player got down and did a prayer pose facing the east as a Muslim would, the outcry would be heard across the world. But somehow it is acceptable to mock a pose in the Christian faith.

    November 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      The Lions were not mocking Tebow's faith – they were mocking Tebow and all of the ridiculous hype around him.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Old dude

      Good point.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  12. Alien Orifice

    Wait, I messed up my original stupid post:

    Tebow. Tebowing. Elbowing Tebow, Elwaybowing, Elwaybowing Tebow

    Hmmm. Still stupid. Oh well.

    November 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  13. hippypoet

    it is a freaking dumb fad! get over it people...and it is so not worth an article on cnn. I'm sure there are things going on else where in the world and are of more importance and interest!

    November 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Colin

    Unless Tebow is black and plays for the Lions, that is a stupid foto for the article.

    November 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

      Unless you didn't read the article, this is a stupid comment for this article.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    The Broncos should have "Gott mit uns" emblazoned on their helmets.
    That'll show the other teams whose side God is on!

    November 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • NOo..oON

      God Wins, eh? 😉

      November 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Old dude

      You need to research this further. That was added to German belt buckles long before Hitler became an atheist and dragged half of Europe to hell. By the way, it is not consistent with Christ's teachings. but that doesn't matter to you, because you are not interested in truth. You want to win an argument and insult believers.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Old Dude
      "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
      – Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941

      November 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  16. Entil'za

    Eh...a person expressing his right to pray. Nothing that earth shattering about this story.

    November 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  17. Alien Orifice

    Tebow. Tebowing. Elbowing Tebow. Telbowing.

    November 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Old dude

      Ok. That's funny, too.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  18. Chuckles

    No one's going to even comment that Jared Kleinstein, a jew, has started the fad of tebow-ing? Awesome stuff Jared, keep up the good work!

    November 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  19. Wyatt

    The creator of the universe clearly cares about a football game. Christians are so silly. 😛 Their self importance is so high, they think their petty first world problems are so much greater than the enslavement, abuse, famine, injustice, and slaughter around the world. Of course God's going to take priority to your football game! Of course, you do deserve it with all the money you don't make off of it, right?

    November 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      It's not what is more important. It is that God is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent. To say He wouldn't care about the "small stuff" because there are bigger things and unable to care about both, is to deny His deity

      November 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Chuckles


      I fail to see why that makes me want to respect a god more that has the powers of the universe at his command and yet has a stake in a football game? I mean, I know god is a Broncos fan (why else are sunsets orange and blue?) but I mean seriously, how do you think god decides on who he supports, because he doesn't really have a "home" team right?

      November 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Mike from CT, I have denied the existence of a deity for more than forty years and it doesn't appear that my life is any different than any other American Life. If the belief in a deity doesn't make a difference in a life then what's the point?

      November 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Ed

      We don't think God cars about the game but he does care about our lives. The game is part of out lives. He cares about yours too you just choose to disbelive him.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Old dude

      How does a person know his life is no different than another person's life, let alone *every* other life. A person who has never tasted ice cream might convince himself that it is mashed potatoes. How do you know Tebow is not experiencing God's presence? Isn't a tiny bit of humility in order?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      you have only lived 40 years. To compare your life span to a movie, that is like passing judgement about the point of a 2 hour movie based upon a half second clip. Do you really think you can make that judgement based on so little information

      November 10, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  20. hippypoet

    its not a prayer, its a fad... and a dumb one at that... all fithteen year olds are doing it... thats not praying!

    November 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      With how often he gets sacked, Tebowing really should more closely resemble planking.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • hippypoet

      you know i only just heard of this stuff yesterday at work from a client.. i was beyond stupified! planking, owling, and tebowing are the dumbest fuking sh!t i have ever heard of.... besides pokeman! 🙂

      November 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Oh come on Hippy, lighten up! It's funny and lets people be a little whacky for the sake of whackyness, so whats so wrong with that?

      November 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i'm saying its not funny and wacky, its just not as funny as people seem to make it out to be... or at least i'm not laughing anyway. I love me some Ace Ventura -pet detective! both of them! But laying on the ground is more of a sit-down protest to me...sry

      November 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Johnny

      hippypoet, the word "then" refers to time; the word "THAT" refers to comparison of objects or events. Learn to spell.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • hippypoet

      johnny, that would be proper word usage not spelling...but you knew already right? oh go fuk yourself, i am so sick of little twits responding to the words used instead of the message conveyd! Now i'm sure there is a spelling error or two here, quick get them and post it! idiots are everywhere!

      November 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
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