'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. todd

    This kid reminds me of John Wayne,,REAL AMERICAN HERO AND LEADER!!!

    November 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • tldixon

      get back on your meds...

      November 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  2. Colin


    God here.

    First, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the thoughts and actions of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous. And, if I did exist, you really think I would care about whether you won your football game on the weekend? There are 7,000,000,000,000 people on the planet. Many are starving. You think I care about the Denver Broncos and your success in the NFL. Oh, the ego.

    Second, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was edited over the Centuries, yet you cite them for the most extraordinary of claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who withheld evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifth, I would not care who you do or how you “do it”. I really wouldn’t. This would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Oh, the egos.

    Sixth, I would have smited all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and yet you speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric for me to even contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.


    November 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Raka

      Too long. Thou shall not be read.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Colin

      No worries, raka, it was directed to thase who can read a little more than a paragraph. Put "Jersey Shores" on and go to sleep.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Soundwave

      "Second, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was edited over the Centuries, yet you cite them for the most extraordinary of claims."

      Most of the Apostles died in Martydom so they never got a chance to write a Gospel for us. The Bible was assembled at the Council of Nicea in I believe 325 AD under Constantine. It was assembled to have one unifying canon for all Christian churches to teach. The doctrines and canons established that day stood basically unchallenged for 1,500 years until Martin Luther witness indulgences being sold in Rome. This is when he wrote his thesis and established the Lutheran denomination. From there just about every other denomination has spawned off of. The Catholic Church has stood nearly unchanged since that Council.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Duce

      Although Colin uses sarcasm to convey his point, he is right... The more you educate yourself, the more you find out that the fairy tales your parents told you as a child are nonsense and religion is just another. Great Dark Ages system of control, but we are a little smarter than that these days...Pretty good, other than the burning you for a day part...

      November 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Get Real

      Soundwave: "Most of the Apostles died in Martydom..."

      The fates of most of the apostles is not known (other than the unfounded, unverified stories told by Christians).

      November 10, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  3. Soundwave

    It really is disappointing to see how Godless this world has become. I truly feel sorry for anyone that calls themselves an Atheist because it's quite sad you've never opened yourself up to accept God's love. I can only pray that someday you take a second and truly listen and I know you will hear. I pray everyday for all of you.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • tldixon

      whatever...just keep praying to your mystical sky fairy from the bronze age...

      November 9, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Oatis

      Soundwave- I know exactly what you mean. This world is so lost. I pray that God keeps you strong in this society and that He give us the courage to be able to evangelize to everyone we meet because if we don't, we are accountable for their blood. I pray God's blessings over you! 🙂

      November 9, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Soundwave

      tldixon I will. And I will add you to them as well. I pray sometime soon you open yourself to him and hear him like I do. Then you will truly see.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  4. Oatis

    Seriously, EatYouAlive? Two words- Grow up!

    November 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  5. tldixon

    who cares what dumb jocks get up to? really?

    November 9, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  6. stevie68a

    How people in this day and New Age can believe in religious nonsense is shocking. Religion was created to control people.
    Tebow's parents were brainwashed people, and they just passed it on to this poor guy. Get rid of this delusional and divisive
    stuff, and leave it to the bronze age from which it came.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  7. markiejoe

    Newsflash for Tim Tebow: God doesn't give two hoots to heck whether you win, or even do well in, a football game. His response to Tebowing? "Quick making a mockery of me in sport. I've got bigger fish to fry."

    November 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  8. Plug1

    Tulloch, is the man that was great.first off, Tebow, is not a legit NFL, QB.and will NEVER!!! be one at best he's 3rd team QB. he can't throw the ball!!! It's not about the Denver Broncos, it's about Tebow, and his accomplishment.If your a WR. for that team your stats will decline tremendously... And he's taking rep's from the running backs. The worst I've seen in forty years of football.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  9. mightyfudge

    I forget again... who is the patron saint of Touchdowns and Field Goals? Because I'm certain the administrators of Heaven have nothing better to do than to make sure overpaid professional athletes succeed. Apparently it's their top priority.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  10. Alien Orifice

    On 11/9/2011, HeavenSent said the following to me:


    He skated around the question because he knows I've got him figured out. Anywho, he probably deserved what happened to him.


    She was referring to the fact that I was se xually molested by a pedophile when I was 12 years old.

    I bring this to your attention because at one time, I thought HeavenSent was just a harmless old hag mad at the world. Now I realize she is far stranger. Perhaps dangerous.

    No sane or decent person would make that kind of statement. I encourage you not to engage HeavenSent in conversation. In my opinion, she has clearly crossed the line. She is IN FACT a nut case.

    My opinion only, but that is exactly what she said and that is really creepy. You be the judge.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  11. Scott A

    Time Tebow: I'm a Christian, so forget the poor and down-trodden, I need God to focus his attention on me getting touchdowns so I can have a reason to act like I'm a God myself.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Jay

      The world is full of Christians who fit your description, but Tebow is not one of them. I have no love for his religion, but I do know the man lives what he believes. If you don't know that, check on what he does when he's not playing. This guy is not ignoring the poor and downtrodden. Maybe next time you should know before you throw.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  12. Sean

    Is this really news? Am I the only one here that is sick of hearing about this kid? Enough is enough already. Let him fade into obscurity where he belongs.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  13. mightyfudge

    Your faith is a private deal between you and the Deity of your choice. Please keep it that way.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  14. mschulman

    Properly done, prayer is not like a kid praying for a pony. I expect that if he shared the details with us, Tim Tebow was likely praying for courage, strength, and focus. Prayer is a means of meditation, intended to connect us with the divine, not a Christmas wish list.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Connect with the sky fairy?

      November 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Colin

      So, you subscribe to the belief that an infinitely-old, all-knowing being, capable of creating the entire universe and its billions of galaxies, wants Tim Tebow to win football games.

      Seems to me more like Tim Tebow created his god in his image rather than visa-versa.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  15. John Spencer

    This Tebowing t-shirt is pretty funny:


    November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  16. den

    He is not showing off religion.....He is recognizing his relationship...with God.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      So pathetic.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  17. You Hypocrites

    “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).

    Read your Bibles people.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Usually when doors are closed alone, there is a lot of masturbating going on. (Mass murder)

      November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  18. EatYouAlive

    Thanks religion for proving the idiocy of humanity.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  19. Terry Barton

    Thanks, Tim Tebow- ONE NATION UNDER GOD. Some Americans tend to forget but there is a stronger majority behind religion than these minority comments. I am very sorry for people that can't say a private prayer at work but that is our freedom. Keep praying and wish you the best of luck on the field. Oh by the way I am a Texans fan.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Sorry, the USA is a secular country.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Raka

      A secular country full of Christians.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Jay

      Can't say a private prayer at work? Where did you hear that one?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  20. koga

    I mock his faith because it is a ridiculous faith and is holding society back. He needs to turn his attention and talent to something more real.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
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