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. CRH

    Stay strong Tim. The bible said that you should expect to be persecuted for your beliefs. Some people just have to hate.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Of course it says that. the men who wrote the bible may have been primitive and uneducated, but at least they knew which obvious things to throw in there so that morons would be amazed at the obvious things the authors threw in there to "prove" its truth. What a joke.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • CRH

      The joke will be on you my friend. God bless you.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  2. Jose Head

    This discussion about God favoring Tebow is just silly. The fact is, Denver has a great Defense. And say what you want about Tebow, but facts are he is 1) a genuinely good person, 2) an unnaturally effective leader, and an 3) an extremely hard worker.

    You can probably take it to the bank that the rest of Denver Broncos have total respect for him, despite his shortcomings, and that they recognize that the current hype surrounding him, means nothing to him. It is all about the Team.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  3. Paul

    The answer here is quite simple: "Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith...for them that honour me I will honour." -1 Samuel 2:30

    God is not a Broncos fan. God is a fan of anyone who will openly and unashamedly honor Him. Tim Tebow has chosen to do that where God has put him, and God is honoring him. And all the naysayers can rant and gnash their teeth all they want to. There is no denying it. And I, for one, love that. May God keep blessing him.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Pastafarian

      and you know this to be true because it was written in some primitive book meant to manipulate the weak-minded masses through fear and guilt? pathetic.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  4. Tim

    Yes, because if there were a god (and there is not) he would spend a lot of time concerned about a game in which grown men are paid unbelievable amounts of cash to run into each other and chase a pigskin-covered balloon around on a field. Yeah, all powerful beings are big football fans.

    This is not news.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Paul

      Wow, Tim, you must be some kind of guy! I mean, you must be OMNISCIENT! I'd love to meet you!

      (Un, now, unless you're something other than human, you cannot state as a fact that there is no God. You don't have all knowledge. Just think about that before you say such silly things.)

      December 12, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Pastafarian

      oh Paul ,Paul Paul, no the old and tired "you can't prove there is no god" argument again! Tsk tsk. Then I guess my Flying Spaghetti Monster is on the same list as your god, since YOU cannot prove that He doesn't exist. Silly boy.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • FreeThinker

      Pastafarian – Here, Here! – Well Said! I really hope that one day people will wake up and not be blindly led by ancient religious nonsense. Dr. Sam Harris sums it up best here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HthQ6a7FZeA

      December 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  5. Karen

    It's uplifting to know that there are still individuals who are humble. Regardless of who God supports in the NFL, I am pleased that Tim Tebow continues to be a positive role model. His passion is commendable. It is entertaining to watch how offended individuals become. If he were praising Allah, Budda, or Satan, and anyone had a negative comment, the ACLU would swoop in to save/secure his religious rights! It might be interesting to see what the Westboro Baptist Church thinks about him.....nevermind. They don't like anyone.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  6. RamblinLonghorn

    If God is the Denver Defense, and the NFL scheduler, then yes, God is on Tebow's side. Seriously, he's a sub 50% passer, usually throws for 100-150 yards in a game, and the team scores in the low teens most of the time. Tebow is the least part of the Broncos being good.

    Playing the Bears, without their 3 best players, at home, is not much to lay your hat on.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Observer

      Tebow is the least part of the Broncos being good.

      Ask Orton about that.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  7. Rick

    If it is God helping Tebow, as a Bronco fan, I'd prefer God go to Washington and help the Democrats and Republicans fix the economy or at least to come to a compromise on _something_.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  8. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Yes, it's all true...last time I went to a football game I saw the face of Jesus on my peanut shell. At Notre Dame, it's no secret that Jesus radios plays to the QB from the pressbox in the sky. And I have personally seen, after 4 beers, the hand of God push a field goal kick outside the uprights to influence the game. And St. Peter himself plays safety, to make sure only the devout get into the endzone. And who can forget that rain-drenched game where the field was like one big puddle, when Tebow ran on top of the water all the way for a TD. How can you not see the hand of God in all of this?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  9. God

    I highly doubt Tebow is praying to win. Unless he criticizes you and your beliefs, your criticism towards him has no weight what so ever.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  10. Rod

    God grants the desires of His children according to HIS WILL.. God is Sovereign in ALL even the non-beliievers. God loves ALL if one establishes a personal relationship with Him thru Jesus Christ coming, sacrificial death and resurrection thru forgiveness of sin and repentance. God validates His promise of HIS Second Coming soonest to redeem His children!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Pastafarian

      lol. sad that such primitive thinking still exists in modern society.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  11. Muloirea

    Tebow has one NFL skill: He plays very well against the Prevent Defense, otherwise he is the worst QB in the League.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  12. Amy

    I'll find Tim Tebow to be truly humble when he gets down on his knees and praises God after throwing an interception. God lifts up the losers in this world, not the winners.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  13. Keneth

    If god is a Denver fan, god sucks.....Go Green Bay!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  14. Observer

    Why can't God come on TV between plays and prove he existsf? It would supposedly save billions of lives, but I guess God has more inportant things to do like watching other games.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  15. midgick

    anyone out there see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?? Harry pretend to pour a "good luck" potion into his friend, Ron's, drink.
    Ron then goes out and plays the best game of his life. Sounds familiar A person can talk themselves into almost anything.
    OK Tebow's potion is God. Works for him great.But, it doesn't prove not one damn thing.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  16. Lisa

    Tim Tebow didn't win the game yesterday, the kicker did!! He scored the field goal that tied the game, then another that won the game. Why aren't we talking about him? Prater, I think was his name?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • x277

      Maybe because Tebow drove them down the field to get the kicker IN POSITION to win the game. I'm not a Broncos fan by any means, but I understand the role of the QB in putting his team in position to win the game. Anyone who understands the game of football knows this, clearly you don't.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Jen

      lol x277. seriously? 59 yards out is not generally an optimal place for a field goal attempt. Tebow is lucky his kicker was able to make it. Most couldn't, especially in an outdoors stadium. Plus, you can also put some of this on the Bears offense for not running the clock down effectively and/or the turnover in OT that basically handed the Broncos that win. The Bears beat themselves.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  17. Justice

    More than 20,000 children die every day through hunger, diseases, murder, etc. That’s millions of children every year. What makes this Tebow buffoon think he is more worthy than a single dying child, let alone millions of them? If Tebow’s God really does exist and really does perform miracles during football games, while dying children see no divine intervention as they suffer, then I want nothing to do with this idiotic God. Sheeesh! No wonder more and more people are turning away from religion!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Hey Bitter.....

      No one is forcing you to believe anything. Can't believe you'd try to relate a football game or player to famine or other world ills.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • pete

      Listen jerk,
      Stop making crap up. Tim Tebow has never said he is better then anybody else. Stop listening to his gutless critics who simply hate Tebow because he is a Conservative Chrisitian. Tim Tebow does more charity work in 2 hrs then you probably do in your miserable life. Why does it bother you that Tebow visits sick children in hospitals, having a hospital built in the Phillipines, working with orphans, and a lot more. This man has nothing but good to say about everyone, even to his nasty critics like you. it is amazing to see someone hated for o reason other then he is a good guy, sheesh!

      December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Maybe more people are turning away from religion (depends what pole you want). But are these same people shouldering responsibility to make the world better?

      December 12, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Pastafarian

      pete: i'm pretty sure that Justice's main grip is with your god, not just tebow. and you knew that, so don't deflect the main point. if god really existed, tebow wouldn't have to save dying children or build hospitals in 3rd-world countries. god would just not allow those atrocities to happen to innocent children.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • FreeThinker

      Hit the nail on the head there – there is no god helping him win football games and no god to save these poor children. I'm shocked and amazed that people can believe such nonsense. Lots of non-believers do a lot of good things in the world – Warren Buffett and Bill Gates come immediately to mind.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Caper

      Because, God can always create another one. Babies don't do touch down prayers.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Pastafarian


      December 12, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Todd

      So many comments about "How could a loving God let people starve, die, etc?" That is simply just a misunderstanding of who God is. God has no obligation to us. He created us and offered us a relationship, but we rejected it and went our own way. Poverty exists not because God doesn't care, but because we don't care. War exists not because God doesn't care, but because we don't care. Injustice exists not because God doesn't care, but because we don't care.

      In an effort to redeem us, God sent His Son to take on the wrath that all of us deserve for creating these injustices. Through that death, a relationship can once again be formed with a loving God that we do not deserve. If we want to discuss injustice, the greatest injustice comes in the fact that Jesus took the punishment that we deserved.

      Instead of looking at the miraculous results of Tebow, let's look closer at his claims. Anyone who turned a team around in this fashion, and anyone who accomplished what he has accomplished would get similar praise. Shoot, we talk of the Packers just as much as we talk about the Broncos. But even in the spotlight, even when Tebow has the opportunity to receive credit and receive praise, he still points to Christ.

      Instead of criticizing him for these antics, let's consider why he would do such a thing. Why would a celebrity that is getting the positive praise that he deserves continually redirect it to God? Maybe there is something greater. Maybe there is something more important to Tebow than winning football games and gaining fame. Maybe there is a relationship that he has that the majority of the world does not have. And maybe his aim is to help others realize and understand that so that we can also come into a relationship with this loving God.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  18. innkahoots

    Those Godless Cubies

    December 12, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  19. Godfrey

    I wonder how many Christians converted to Islam when Muhammed Ali was rocking the boxing world.

    Or does the same logic not apply to Allah?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  20. Tsimbi

    There have been plenty of devout believers in professional sports and few of them have won 7 out of their first 8. The rules of chance tell you that it's bound to happen to one of them sooner or later. I wonder how this author will feel when the Broncos get crushed, which is inevitable.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • oldblindjohn

      When they get crushed it will be blamed on lack of faith.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:34 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.