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. Joseph Smith

    Maybe the key to God is also through football. Afterall, Jerry Sandusky got his prayers answered just like all those Priests who continually get to molest children. The point being that prayers that deprive other people of happiness more than likely fall on death ears.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Sorry, Had To Say It

      I believe you meant to say "fall on deaf ears", I guess they could mean the same because if someone's ears were dead they wouldn't hear very much haha but I'm pretty sure the term is "falls on deaf ears" meaning noone hears. I am not a troll that is just a pet peeve I have when people use that phrase but you have a good point Joe keep it up.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  2. dgrhm

    Uhm, nope. God doesn't play favorites in sports. Consider that other players are God loving/fearing Christians, why would God show preference for Tebow over other believers?

    Chances are he's just a really talented guy who's got deep faith.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Bob

      According to the bible, god actually does play favorites, not just with individuals but with whole races, e.g. his chosen people. Seems Christian god is quite the bigoted, racist jerk.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  3. chip lafayette

    being down 10 points in the 4th quarter with no points on the board is pretty pathetic. I can see why John Elway hesitates about committing long term to him.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • JThomas2121

      Six dropped passes, including a sure 55-yard score, doesn't help. The guy is playing better; it's his receivers that need to step up.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  4. Clint

    Belief in one's self is far more important than belief in any mythology, no matter how old and storied.

    Basically, he "believes god is on his side" even though there is no such thing as "god". It's kind of like little kids who believe in Santa Clause, the majic is always there until they realize it's their parents. Once you stop believing in the mythological being, the majic is gone. In reallity, the majic was never there, he's just confident because of his beliefs. Shake ihis confidence, and he'll lose miserably.

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

      I will pray for you. There is a God and he take care of the needs of all belivers. Since you are not a beliver, you would not know what God can do for you. Not just in football, but in anything you need in your life.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • nwatcher

      Wow, where were you when we all needed to know if there is a God. Thanks. Now I know. Discussion over. Boy was I wrong. Sorry everyone..

      December 12, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Thing is Merry, there is also a Santa, but you dont get any presents from him because you do not believe in him. If you believed you will see what presents he can actually bring you.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • JThomas2121

      How interesting that the last word in your post was 'miserably.' When we believe in nothing, you are nothing but miserable. Just because YOU believe that God doesn't exist doesn't make it true, but you pontificate as though you have some knowledge no one else in the world has.

      The truth is that people can choose to believe however they want to believe. Tim Tebow isn't forcing his beliefs on you. He isn't trying to convert you, or anyone for that matter. He is proud of his faith and isn't going to shrink from it because small minded people like yourself will mock him.

      I have a very high IQ, studied astrophysics, and was an atheist. Until I began to truly dig into faith in God more. It's interesting that currently astrophysicists are seeking proof of 'Dark Matter,' a substance that cannot be seen, heard, or detected, but that MUST be there because it would help to explain everything else they don't understand, yet no one makes the correlation between dark matter and God. I believe in God. I believe in evolution. I believe in the Big Bang. I believe there is a force greater than ourselves. And I have noticed that since my faith in God was born, my life has become better. I have become happier and I no longer feel as though there's something trying to hold me down. Weight has been lifted.

      I respect that you and others don't believe. It's fine. I choose to believe. Tim Tebow chooses to believe. If it doesn't affect you, then let it be.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "When we believe in nothing, you are nothing but miserable"
      based on what criteria? I have a great life thanks.

      "It's interesting that currently astrophysicists are seeking proof of 'Dark Matter,' a substance that cannot be seen, heard, or detected, but that MUST be there because it would help to explain everything else they don't understand, yet no one makes the correlation between dark matter and God"
      Because the search for dark matter is a scientific one based on scientific observations, it does not say 'you know what, it must be magic, maybe we should be looking for a supernatural answer'

      December 12, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  5. Reasonable man

    Pass completion is less than 50%. Passer rating under 90. I wouldn't call that successful for an NFL quarterback, and neither would a god.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  6. Paul

    All i have to say is, Tom Brady and the Pats next sunday. If Denver beats them then i'm going to church more often.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  7. smartaz

    How bad of a QB is Tebow if he can only score 1 TD with God's help?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • nwatcher

      It's football – there was a defense on the field along with 10 other teammates who did have a part in this. Did Denver win or not. Last I checked it was possible to win 2 -0 in the NFL

      December 12, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  8. if horses had Gods ...

    Moses parts the Red Sea & delivers the Israelites to safety ..
    Tebow scores touchdowns & delivers the Broncos to victory ..
    Yup .. pretty much the same thing. Gotta love the newest new testament.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  9. Jeff

    The fact is, because we are having this discussion out in the open is the best proof for God's presence in Tim Tebow's life. Even if he looses the rest of the season, or wins the Super Bowl, the question of God's interaction in our daily lives has been answered, and the answer is YES.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Clint

      If you call the internet "out in the open", your life msut really suck.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      LOL ... it's only a "fact" that we're having a conversation, nothing more. Look up "fact" & then "self fullfilling prophecy".

      December 12, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Big Bushy Mustache

      if God can make Tim Tebow win football games, why can't he bring Jim Baker and Tammy Fey back together. I miss them so much.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  10. Big Bushy Mustache

    As a resident of Denver I have to say I see a little halo over Tebow's head. Next game during half time we are having a baby Jesus toss. We set up a manger at the 50 yard line and give fans a chance to toss a plastic jesus baby from the end zone. If you land the baby in the manger you get free season tickets for two in the sky box.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  11. Buddy

    Everything is predestined to happen in accordance with God the Almighty. He was, is and ever shall be. The Great I am that I am! Glory be to God, forever and forever, Amen.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      Take it somewhere else, pal.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "The Great I am that I am!"

      Wasnt that Popeye's line?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  12. Danny

    The only thing that is happening is that God is placing him on a platform where he can shine for.Gods purposes!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Big Bushy Mustache


      December 12, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  13. steeve-o

    C'mon the guy's just another Tony Romo... pulls wins out of his behind, and will eventually disappoint.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Great Rock

      Wait a minute! I am a Dallas fan from San Antonio, and you say Tim Tebow is another Tony Romo? Did Romo quarterback two NCAA football championships? I think not. This year, it would be fair to say, it would be a miracle if the Broncos win it all taking on GB and NE. Romo's performance goes down the drain in December year after year.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  14. Brad

    We screw up and it's our fault. We do something amazing and its god. That's rational....

    December 12, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      Expecting rationality from delusional people is going to disappoint you every time.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  15. derp

    I think god still like the Packers a lot more than the Broncos. If god is working for Tebow, who the hack is behind the Packers?

    Whoever it is is surely the supreme being.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  16. Feloiterous

    Do you think the Packers would have let the Broncos come back from 10:0 in 2 minutes???
    The Packers beat Chicago, the Raiders, the BRONCOS, the Saints, the Falcons, the Lions. Come to think, they're 13:0, they must be god's team. God loves Wisconsin and cheese. And so do I. Case closed.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm not sure about the Wisconsin part, but I agree with you about the cheese.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  17. smartaz

    FYI, It isn't Christians making such a big deal about Tebow. It is something far worse....Gator fans.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  18. Aaron

    Unless Marion Barber is God...I don't think he helped

    December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  19. Barangha the Great

    I love how people will credit miracles before they credit a good kicker. The Broncos kicker nailed two unreal field goals first to tie, then to win the game, and what happens? "God is on Tebow's side!"

    December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      But the kicker didn't make an out-of-place display of personal faith - you know the sort that implies that he his more special and more blessed than everyone else. The type of hollow gesture that christians just eat up. That's the difference.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Sorry, Had To Say It

      Tallullah13 – 1
      Crazy-ignorant-wackos – 0

      Very well said!

      December 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  20. Edward

    Tebow or no one else for that matter ever claimed that because he believes in God, prays to God and thanks God – that God is making the Broncos win. Tebow is a strong and positive person that is sure of himself and it rubs off on everyone around him. The only problem are the atheists that can't stand any religion and are going insane because they can't have praying or talking about God banned in the NFL. What really drives them insane is all the people saying they believe. Tebow will do his thing no matter how much they hate him – always wondered why anyone that does not believe in God gets so upest about those that do. If anyone has a problem – it's not Tebow.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      So if an islamic player gave thanks to allah, you'd be okay with that? Honestly?

      December 12, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Clint

      If that were true, there would be no comments here, the whole story is about "god" helping them win. I swear, if he kept his religous beliefs personal, because they are a very personal thing, noone would be writing BS stories like this one.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • SistahWoman

      Amen and amen

      December 12, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • thoughtsjustsome

      Tim Tebow is winning at life and there is no doubt that God is helping him do so. The quality of life that an earnest and faithful follower of Jesus Christ experiences is better than those who reject God's leadership in their lives. That is what we are witnessing and it's a whole lot more important than a 7 game winning streak. This doesn't mean earnest Christians are are always winners in football or that they are immune to the problems of life. A servant-hearted, compassionate, hard working, humble and respectful response to others and to life is simply a superior way to live. It's the way of Christ and it produces a better life experience than the "survivor of the fittest" alternative.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Jack

      There are thousands of professional sporbts athletes from numerous beliefs or non beliefs. Yet, all but a small amount have the common courtesy to "Keep thy religion to themselves" I have no problem with the fact Tebow loves god..Great Awesome. But when he talks about it all the time it bugs me. I'm watching football not the god channel. If would bug me if he were thanking any diety.. All these Christian Tebow Fans would not be so found of Tebow if he was thanking Alah.. What about all the kids who love football that were raised with a different belief? Tebow only believes what his parents raised him to believe he does not think for himself..Tebow has worked hard for what he has...but he's always been successful, lets see what happens when the times get tough..Tebow emotionally broke down like a 12 year old girl when Florida lost to Bama a couple years back.. What is he gonna to when he has a real problem?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:21 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.