'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. Zippy

    Many of the same people condemning him would applaud his bravery if he was MusIim.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Well

      Well, it would actually take a little bravery to do it if he were Muslim.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Scott

      really? that's your comment??

      November 10, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  2. thes33k3r

    I'll mock his and anybody else's ridiculous religious beliefs. If you are going to perform public displays of "faith", then prepared to be ridiculed. There are many of us who realize that you are praying to nothing. Get used to it. Religion is the greatest lie ever told and we're tired of your expectation of special treatment just because you play the faith card.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Frank Bund

      Rock on. Be a man. Mock people! So tough!

      November 10, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  3. BabsinPA

    A young man named Tim bears testimony to his Christian faith, and it really makes him no different from hundreds of other Christian athletes who profess their faith in interviews, or hand gestures and raising their eyes to the heavens, or the gatherings of Christian athletes for prayer at the completion of games. How sad people feel the need to mock these young men for their beliefs, no matter how they care to express them.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      How sad that these men feel the need to take away from the TEAM aspect of the game to try and get the focus on them on their individual beliefs. Believe what you want, but when you separate yourself from your TEAM to try and proselytize, it is cheesy and deserves to be ridiculed. All faiths are equally silly. It is funny that people like Tebow thinks his hypocritical, contradictory religion is true, and all the other hypocritical, contradictory religions are silly!

      November 10, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  4. bulldogfrog

    I am so tired of having this life choice being shoved down our throats.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Hadituptaheer

      Amen to that, Brother!

      November 10, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  5. Amber

    Has the whole entire world forgotten about the little thing called FREEDOM OF SPEECH?!?!

    November 10, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • tallulah13

      That means anyone who wants to make fun of this silly jock is free to do so. Still, leisure diving is better.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Hadituptaheer

      Which largely ends with your right to avoid it. You can't get away with walking down the street flipping everyone off, either.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      Are you really that uneducated? Freedom of Speech dictates that the government will not infringe on your right to have and express opinions. (i.e. you won't get arrested for saying one political party is correct on a single, or all, issues). It has NOTHING to do with how people treat each other. By your interpretation, anyone could go to work and start ranting to customers about Hitler being right and they would not be able to be fired because of their 'freedom of speech'. It is so pathetic that so many Americans think Freedom of Speech is what you think it is, and not what it actually means. 99% of us were taught this in THIRD GRADE. If you don't know it as an adult you should lose your right to vote (and breed for that matter)

      November 10, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  6. Goddoescare

    I would like to say that God does care about Tebow winning games and getting attention. If Tebow does not win games, he will cease to be paid large sums of money in an effort to do so. If Tebow does not get paid large sums of money, how can he give large sums of money to feed/relevant verb starving/sick/impoverished people/relevant group of people in need? If Tebow does not stand for something, how can he inspire others to stand for something? Even when the attention is mostly negative.
    On a football note...Tim Tebow is the most winning-est quarterback on the roster in Denver. Also has the highest passer rating. He is also having a historic year already, in just three starts, for combination of rushing and passing touchdowns. (Kordel Stewart style).
    Love thy Neighbor.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • tallulah13

      Or, god could just create a situation where no one starves, suffers or lacks. But apparently god is a big sports fan who doesn't give a rat's a$$ about poor people.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Goddoescare

      If there was no decay their would be no need for God. I don't know about a sports fan, but God is definitely a Tebow fan. "Consider it pure joy when facing trials and are persecuted for your faith." James 1...means you are set apart and doing the right thing;) Makes people feel guilty

      November 10, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Goddoescare

      Correction... If there was no decay, there would be no need for God.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • David Leslie

      What a load of Bollocks !! Religion has only one place...and that is at home or in church on Sundays.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      Historic year? By whose standards? He has been decent in one start and downright AWFUL in two others. His first game he was horrible for 56 minutes, then good (not great) for 4 minutes. That was against the worst team in the NFL who have not won any games. I actually like Tebow as a person, but you are letting your faith blind you as to his ability (or you just don't know bupkiss about football). If you really think God wants him to win you are REALLY delusional.!! There are people of every kind of faith on both sides of the ball. Many, if not most, NFL players give at least some money to various organizations.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  7. Hadituptaheer

    Kind of like a Muslim.
    Thank you Baby J
    Fo makin the ball fly dat way

    November 10, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  8. Joe

    Isn't there a Bible passage about going into a closet to pray... to not appear pius in public???

    November 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Amber

      no the Bible says several times to pray amongst others.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • wam

      that reference was intended to address the false piety of hypocrites, not sincere public expressions of faith. FYI

      November 10, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  9. tallulah13

    Now I understand why children are still dying of horrible diseases, and why there is famine and war. God is really trying to do something about all those problems, but every time he gets down to business, some lame jock interrupts.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Come on Tallulah, give him a break, it's on a Sunday and thats the day when god gets a break! I mean the omnipotent god can't be on all the time, he needs to rest, all that nothing he does during the other 6 days really tuckers him out.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • tallulah13

      When you put it that way, chuckles, I suspect that god is really a cat.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  10. Tina

    I live here in Florida and am a gator fan, that being said I love Tim Tebow! He is awesome and he will do great things in the NFL and outside of it as well! If these others are making fun of him because of his faith then they are pathetic and need to reexamine their own lives. There is nothing wrong with prayer that is for sure. He is not the only one who does this so people need to get over themselves. I think that some of these players that keep getting into trouble should probably stop and pray once in awhile and just maybe they would stay out of trouble. I am not a religious person but I do believe in prayer!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • David Leslie

      jJeez, what a load pious Gator Garbage. Get real Tina and grow up!. I live in Miami.
      Gator Hater!!!

      November 10, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  11. Tanica

    I don't understand why so many people didn't read the article. The "God cares about Tebow winning" comments are ridiculous. And what's with all the athiest getting butt hurt? Why is this such a big deal to you? And why do the majority of athiest responding on here sound like teenagers? My athiest friend's so much more mature then you guys and gals. Your giving athiest a bad rep.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  12. Scott

    Respect is forgotten in our society – better to be in your face and ridicule those with conviction than actually have conviction yourself. Celebrate for everything and if you can pull off a Springer-esque episode at the same time it must feel so fulfilling and next week some other moron will do the same to you when you aren`t perfect.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  13. RealityCheck

    Tebow is the most popular player in the NFL with fans for a reason. And all the hatred and jealousy of him by lowlifes won't change that fact.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  14. Fred Riek

    If I want to watch football I tune in to watch football, not have someone having a religion moment. if I want to watch a religious program, I do not want anyone breaking it up with a footbal moment. Tebow needs to take up his parents vocation for which he is much more suited than being an NFL quarterback. I wish him well, but damn it, I want to watch football.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • David Leslie

      Bravo! Fred that is what it should be all about.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  15. mickey1313

    I am from Denver, and tbow should be ashamed of his preformance. In fact the donkys, ever since Elway left have been a joke. Pat Bowlen is a p-o-s, and the fact that we voted to keep the name of the stadeum and evil fascest bill owens gave it to invesco, (now the laughable "sports authority), All pro sports are a drain on the econmy, and are out right flat out evil. Pee in the mouths of all athleates

    November 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  16. Truth Squad

    Once again, "belief" blog is really a circle jerk for atheists who have zero interest in intelligent debate or conversation regarding religion.

    Our liberal run school system and liberal dominated media has produced a generation of people who cant' think or reason a whit about anything outside liberal orthodosxy. These people are more closed minded and less rational than they accuse people of faith to be. Their comments largely make no sense and then have the gall to claim that people who believe in God are stupid.

    The US was dominated by Christians and Christian thinking for the first 150+ years and became a world super power militarily, in education, manufacturing, economically, pretty much in every facet.

    In the last 40 we have seen this country go straight down the tubes as the country gets more and more liberal and you again have the gall to call out Christians?

    November 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Franco

      Ah, yes. That great moral heyday when the good ol' US of A was a Christian military superpower. Your delusions apparently don't stop at your irrational belief in an all-powerful sky fairy.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I'm sorry that white skin and external reproductive organs no longer guarantee you personal advantage. I'm sorry that the playing field is now level for all people, including minorities and non-christians. I'm appalled that you seem to pine for the days of discrimination and bigotry, child labor and slavery.

      I'm also confused that you, as an individual, call yourself a "squad". What is that even supposed to mean?

      The reality is that much of the nation's issues with education and morals stem from conservative efforts to undermine education and to encourage poverty. I am no fan of the welfare state, but right now politicians, religious leaders and corporations are doing far more to destroy this nation than equal rights and humanism.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Franco

      Tallulah. This world-wrecking atheist read your post and gives a hardy AMEN! Thank you.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Jeremiah

      Yep, the US was so much better when everyone was a Christian. Slavery was AWESOME! Being a woman was almost as awesome as being a slave (being a female slave...well, imagine the best day of your life and it happens over and over again until you die)! America was a beacon of hope for every other race in the world. The Irish, the Chinese, Germans, Native Americans, and Mexicans all flocked to the US because it stood as a beacon of Godly virtue...and all of their dreams were fulfilled once they arrived. Well, at least the ones that prayed hard enough to be let IN to America.

      And our economy was amazing, especially when God blessed us with that Great Depression (oh man, God's mercy sure was on display then!). World War I and World War II were both fun. Oh and don't forget how awesome it was to be a kid back then. I mean, who doesn't want to work in a mine and get black lung at the age of 9??? Sure we had other people who practiced other religions, but they knew better than to go talking about back then! I guess they whispered or something, but whatever it was, God didn't hear them and so he continued to bless the United States.

      Stupid Obama and the liberals ruined all that and now God is punishing us! Don't believe it??? Well, think about THIS you close-minded liberal orthodoxy God-less punks: living in the United States was NEVER difficult, hard, or stressful before 1961! That's nothing but God-stamped proof right there!

      November 10, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Well

      Well the irony is that the "athiest communists" are the ones who actually beat Hitler so the US could become a superpower.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • David Leslie

      What absolute puerile nonsense. Your assertions are ridiculous and beyond any reasonable basis for a proper discussion.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  17. 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 11:37 pm |
    • Frank Bund

      Yeah yeah, we all saw it on the last page, and a couple other articles you've spammed. Get over yourself. Jesus Whining Christ. It's a blog with a comment section. Boo fiddly hoo. Need a box of kleenex? Go to walmart and buy one. It'll give us some reprieve from your little tantrum.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  18. Richard

    Tebow like any athlete or politician needs to leave their faith in the home. People generally aren't offended by others having a different religion, they are offended by it being shoved down their throat. It's YOUR religion Tim, not anyone else's – necessarily. Religion is personal, keep it that way.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Jaimie

      Sorry Richard, but I am a Christian too and I was taught that if you are ashamed of GOD in public, then he will be ashamed of you at judgement. I think its refreshing that someone is standing out genuinely through his faith. Nobody says anything when rich people are throwing their money around or someone has their profanity laced music playing out loud. The only reason I think people mind his public appreciation of GOD is because they are insecure and maybe feeling a bit despondent that they dont have the guts to do the same thing.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Agreed richard, the people of colorado pay the duschebags salery, and we are sick of this second rate athleate envokeing god, expecally when he wins less then 25% of the time, that is not godlike.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • JQ

      Richard, if you think "cramming it down someones throat" is what Tebow is doing, then I guess you would have to stay indoors all day and no look at anything or talk to anyone, because everyone has a belief, even Aethiests. So good luck with that!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Jamie, um, it is not that HE is ashamed of god. Everyone who is not a thiest 69% of americans, think that he should be though. A belief in god is no differant then a belief in elves goblins magic wizards farys and so forth. All thiests who are anti any of the above mentioned fantisy, ARE HYPOCRITES, do you know another spelling for hypocrite, i do CHRISTIAN

      November 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Austin

      How is what he's doing shoving religion down anyone's throat?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Tina

      All due respect to you but Tim is not shoving anything down anyones throat, he is just praying to his God! There is nothing wrong with that!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • C

      When a person kneels down in prayer, it is not done to offend anybody, Richard. If it offends you, maybe you should look away. Just like I look away when I see a scene on a TV show that "offends" me.
      Last time I checked, "freedom of religion" did not mean only if you keep it in your home! Give the guy a break, he was thanking his God for a good game, that's all..............................

      November 10, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • wam

      your religion, and by the way almost 2 billion others. And by the way, billions more including other God respecters like Muslims and Hindus. But who's counting. Don't like it – don't watch. Leave your minority religion to yourself why don't yah!

      November 10, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Caribou

      I agree, Richard.

      It's funny how people say when someone kneels to pray (Teblowing) they are thanking God for a good game? Really? God made you play good today on the field son, bow down.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • tallulah13

      One would hope that he gives equally public thanks to his teammates. After all, they are the ones who are actually contributing to his success.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • David Leslie

      Richard, my sentiments exactly. Could not agree more!!

      November 10, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  19. randy

    "sewing controversy" ?

    November 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  20. drp146

    There's no crying in football.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      There is in baseball, however, if you recall Wade Boggs after the Sox blew the '86 World Series. Wept like a mustachioed baby.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:17 am |
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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.