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. AcertnChristian

    Wow you athiests really come out when religious people mention the "G" word (God) or the "J" word (JESUS). Why all the harsh remarks? if you dont believe in God then why bash people who do? Also if you care so much for the starving in Africa why dont we hear about any Ahiest organizations sending food or supplies to Africa? Sounds a little hypocritical to me my athiest friends. God bless TT and all who give God HIs due praise! We all know the athiests arent going to.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • NorthropP61

      Thank you for proving my point.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Jake

      Why? Because religion is harmful. Atheists are good people fighting against the horrible influence of religion. You're welcome.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • USmellLikePee

      Why? Because this great country affords you the right to be an ignorant d-bag and me the right to call you out on it.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  2. NorthropP61

    "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven."
    "But when you pray go into your room and shut the door...."
    Looks like Tebowites have never read Matt 6:1-6 but are practicing their ignorance before the rest of the world.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  3. Cooliosis Unrooliosis

    Tebow has deep faith in God. That's his choice and his life. I can't say I relate, but I do respect his right to be who he is. His deep faith gives him a far different perspective than most people on the meaning of "conviction." Whether God is on Tebow's side or not is a crazy question to ask: there's no answer and there's no proof there's even a God (or two, or three). But I tell you what, the dude plays smashmouth 1940s style football and goes ballistic in the 4th quarter and Overtime. If you don't like that, you don't like football. If you ever played the sport, even on a grass lot as a kid, then you can respect the power that Tebow brings to the game as a dual-threat QB. He won two National Championship trophies for Florida and a Heisman and that didn't happen by mistake. Now if you want to give God credit for that too, well that's a whole other argument to start. The dude can play some ball and anyone who doesn't think so should stick to more esoteric subjects of debate.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  4. ChiWhiteSox56

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is CNN.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  5. CommonSense

    If God is paying attention to football instead of trying to help out people who aren't millionaires struggling to survive the world over, then that's a diety not worthy of worship.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • NorthropP61

      Yep Imagine a diety who, when terrified children are praying for deliverance from abuse, prefers to add another point to a football game.
      Sadly, CommonSense, the sort of people who believe in divine intervention in a ball game, will attack anyone who disagrees with them as an athiest. Pathetic.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  6. AceRyder

    I voted yes because I think it's obvious that god favors certain athletes. Duh.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • AceRyder

      He used to be on Michael Vick's side until that whole dog thing ruined it. Stupid dogs.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • WordUpToo

      god is dog spelled backwards. hmmmm...maybe some sort of cryptic message from satan?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  7. Joe

    I think that anybody that watched the Broncos/Bears game knows that the Broncos won for two reasons:

    1) Broncos kicker did an awesome job.
    2) Marion Barber blew it. He didn't go down to let the time run down. Seriously, the bears could have taken a knee and done a better job. Then, he fumbled when he was trying to score a touchdown, which he did not need. The Bears were already in field goal range.

    I'm not saying that I don't believe in God, but he has better things to do than help Tim Tebow win football games. I think what we are witnessing in this article is a troll writer looking to get everyone on tilt.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  8. Palin Power

    Tebow is truly God's Chosen Quarterback. His victory over Obama's Bears is a clear sign that Obama will lose reelection in 2012 to Sarah Palin.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  9. Charles

    God must be betting on the Broncos.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  10. M

    A few years ago, a few of my coworkers went to a casino, and, before they began playing, they prayed over a slot machine. I thought that was incredibly tacky and disrespectful. Why? Because they were essentially praying for monetary gain.

    And what is Tim Tebow getting out of winning? Well, considering that the NFL is a for-profit enterprise, wins bring fans, and fans bring cash, and cash brings him a bigger contract. So, in the end, winning makes money for him.

    What I think some people misunderstand is that people's disdain at Tebow is not an attack on Christianity. It is, in fact, a reaction to this show he is putting on. Do you think that God can only hear his prayers if he prays in large public spaces for all the world to see? And do you think that God cares who wins a football game? It isn't a battle between good and evil; it's a GAME.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • NorthropP61

      Tebowites are exhibiting their ignorance of the scriptures they claim to believe. Jesus said people who make a show of their piety are having their only reward in the attention they get from other people. They may be familiar twith the "Lord's Prayer" but have never read the preceeding verses (Matt 6:1-6) that condemn public display. In short, they're trying to "remove the straw" from others' eyes while having a "rafter" in their own.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  11. sailingStu

    It should be apparent to any open-minded person that the drive-by media hate any/all Americans that believe in the Judeo-christian basis for the founding of America. Anyone who professes their faith openly (but quietly) as Tebow does must be a bad example while celebrating songs that degrade America, morality, women or (fill in the blank). As far as I know, Tebow does not condemn others who do not believe as he does, but has sought to lead by example. The time is quicly approching when enough will be enough.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      Please, go hide under your bed and wait for the rapture, fool.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  12. derp

    Hello Tebowtards!

    God is a Packers fan.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  13. Joseph

    LOL at the 28% who said yes in the poll.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  14. crabman

    a field goal wins the game and he's a better than sliced bread -- really – one loss will bring every body back from cloud 9 and life will go on NEXT

    December 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  15. Big Bushy Mustache

    If God doesn't favor Tim Tebow and the Broncos why are sunsets orange and blue?

    December 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Barrie

      What a ridiculous article – and CNN doesn't do its credibility any good by featuring it on its front page. If there was a god he'd be laughing himself/herself silly about now.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  16. Rhett

    I like Tebow, I think he is a great guy and athlete. I think God could help an individual excel or improve at his or her profession. I wonder if there will be the same retoric if Jimmer lights up the NBA, I'm not saying he will light it up though. Oh wait Mormons don't believe in Jesus. That's funny because that is all we learn about, his pictures are all over LDS(Mormon) churches.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      That's a different jesus.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Rhett

      LOL my bad, Never knew there was more than one in the New Testament. I guess I better re-read.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Ed

      Now I know we're doomed. The level of stupidity has reached epic proportions in our country. Keep looking to skys while the robber barons steal the food from your babies mouths. Nice job, national petroleum radio, you have sunk to a new low. I'm done with you, join FOX and finish the job of destroying what sanity we have left. Public radio indeed.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Mormons don't believe that Jesus is the ONLY son of the ONLY God. They believe they will become a God. Lie! Same thing lucifer was seeking when he was cast out of heaven.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Rhett

      A true Christian would not try to belittle a faith or a race. Bigotry, done with you. By their fruits ye shall know them.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  17. EddyL

    Stupid enough article?

    December 12, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  18. Lorelei

    Does God really play favorites in sports? Wow. And the reason this country is going downhill is because Christians pay lip service only to the teachings of Christ. 20% of our children go to bed hungry at night; little brains can't develop properly without nutrition. Yet our leaders who wear Christianity on their sleeves are slashing nutrition programs to balance the budget while screaming over having the super rich pay only 3% more in taxes (what they paid under Clinton when times were booming.) I think God is worried about a lot more than a football team.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • dave

      That reminds me of that old 3rd Rock From the Sun episode where Tommy (one of the aliens) was on the high school basketball team and before the game the coach wanted them to pray. His response to this, while looking at the opposing team who was also praying, was, "Is our God more powerful than theirs?"

      December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  19. tolstoy

    Tebow = awesome player, great man great role model...I think that the atheists would rather have someone play well who was a crack addict and molester. Oh well, atheism has always been about emotionalism and disdain for those who know God. Atheism=the religion of the un-enlightened.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Rhett

      Good Point

      December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • if horses had Gods ...

      One would think Tolstoy would be smarter than that post.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Jake

      Your post is wrong in pretty much every way possible.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • IceT

      Your post is filled with emotionalism and disdain for those who disagree with you.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  20. alittlelight

    Wow! A lot of negativity here whenever God is brought up. The devil is working hard here to break down. Many non believers here! Time to build up!
    The poor,starving, dying, children are here for you and me, to feed. They already have a place in heaven waiting. Do you? http://www.kingsransomfoundation.org/
    The miracle is that God is getting some attention. All miracles are for the glory of God,not for you, or me, or Tim Tebow, but God ,so someone watching may believe, know the truth ,and be changed, by believing in Jesus. God is with Tebow, regardless if he wins or losses. It takes more courage to be Tebow than you think. The courage he gets is from God, because Tebow knows the truth. He knows God, and God knows him. God wants to know you!
    Jesus said "I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6)

    December 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Anita Bleaujob

      blah blah blah blah.

      Delusional people, like yourself, really should be locked up.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:41 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.