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. Steven E.

    If Tebow's ascendency is attributable to God, how do you explain Newt Gingrich?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Sid


      December 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Erik G.

      Don't you see? That just proves God is a Liberal and is answering our prayers!

      December 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  2. harinder

    Now I know why the world is screwed up
    God is too busy with US football

    December 12, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  3. Wendy

    Ok .. I love a great feel good story just like everyone else ... and yes we could all use positive sports role modesl for our children to look at ... but .... there are a lot of athletes that have lived in a this same manner but do so quietly and without fanfare ...... my question is ... If Tebow is "God's Quarterback " who the heck is backing Aaron Rogers ??? He's undefeated ....lol..lol..

    December 12, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • IkeNaz

      HAHAHAHA! That is soooo true. Many athletes pray before and after games, I agree...T'bow's humility and giving credit to the Creator and not himself is a plus and a blessing, but to call him Gdd's quarterback is stupid. T'bow stated in an interview even if he looses he still thanks the Creator so they (media) need to stop this foolishness and making a mochary of the faith. So if he starts loosing then I guess God isn't on his side...smh.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • derp

      "T'bow stated in an interview even if he looses he still thanks the Creator so they (media) need to stop this foolishness and making a mochary of the faith"

      If that dooshebag Tebow did make such an obvious display of his faith, the media would have no foolishness to stop. He brought this on himself. His teammate, Brian Dawkins is just a as religious, and was a huge role model here in Philly for a decade. Nobody make an issue of his faith because he did not define HIMSELF that way. Tebow has, now he has to live with the scrutiny

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

      It isn't the game of football, its the person of Tim Tebow who honors and respects God. He isn't intimidated by the media, but is true to himself and God, thus honoring God. Some may even be drawn to God through Tebow's faith. Jesus said he, himself, was the cornerstone, a stumbling stone for the lost, but a precious living stone to those who seek him. Tim seeks God and as a result, is blessed. All who seek God sincerely are also blessed. If you choose not to seek God, then you're discarding any blessings you could have received. Simple as that – it is a choice each of us makes. An eternal choise.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  4. orange roughy

    Its just the media saying these things. Tebow does not suggest any such intervention. Neither would any other sensible believer. just enjoy the game.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  5. scranton

    Who cares? If Tebow and his fans want to believe God is on their side so be it. It is refreshing to see him just point a couple fingers in the air for a split second other than watching others who score dance around in the end zone drawing as much attention to themselves as possible.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  6. felix_in_Mass

    I give credit to Fox. He created the game plan that works best for the unique differences of a quarterback like Tebow. Go Broncos!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  7. Glades2

    It's not a matter of what sport God prefers (though I believe baseball is His favorite – lol), but it's just a matter that God is there for those who come to Him (Romans 8:28). People seem to find that hard to grasp, perhaps as psychologists often say because their own father was never loving, but for those who had loving parents that concept is not hard to understand. We are God's creation and because of that, loving parents or not, He's there for us in every situation, as long as we come to Him with an open heart, and respect for who He is...

    December 12, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  8. ron

    Those who believe God is choosing a side in a profressional football game have the same mentality of those who followed Jim Jones. Drink up, there's plenty of cool aid to go around.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  9. lordshipmayhem

    OK, so Tibow has an invisible friend. How cute. Lots of five-year-olds have invisible friends.

    He still doesn't have the slightest iota of evidence supporting the existence of supernatural power, without which no god could possibly exist, yet that is the creature he states won his games for him. He's either still a child, certifiably insane (believing in invisible friends) or has suffered from too many concussions.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Mark

      Who are you to say there is no God?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Matt

      Mark- who are you to say there is one? From a logic standpoint, which statement is more ridiculous?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Experience Changes Perspective

      Ironically, God works in our lives on a daily basis – some just don't see it as Him. Did you have three squares today? A roof over your head? A general feeling of well-being? Did you manage to catch that bus in time? Meet that special someone? Feel the tiniest pang of conscience when you saw the man sleeping in the doorway?
      God is working in our lives and for devout christian like Tebow, that work may very well manifest itself in winning games but I have no doubt that even if Tebow didn't win he would still be thankful to his creator for all the things He does in his life.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • what?

      He doesn't believe an imaginary friend won the game for him. He believes he was given the opportunity to win, with that opportunity, he works harder than everyone around, He never stops trying and has faith. if you believe that god is an imaginary friend then it just shows how limited your capacity is to think.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • derp

      Did you have three squares today? A roof over your head? A general feeling of well-being?

      I have three squares, a roof and general well being because I put myself through college, and worked my way up from the bottom of the corporate ladder.

      Your magical sky wizard had nothing to do with it. Trust me, I'd love to take the rest of the year off while god provides all of those great things. Except god doesn't earn a paycheck, I do.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Religion

      Lots of people on the planet didn't have three squares today, including many devout Christians and children. Does that mean God is a sadist or something? The logic on fundies is very very scary.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Haha

      Here we go again with the atheist picking on the Christians. My God why can't you people just leave it alone. We believe what we want to believe, same goes for you. You can think we are crazy to believe in a "Sky Wizard" and I can think you're a complete moron (but very highly educated, thanks for pointing that out) for trying to tell people that there is no God when you have no proof that one doesn't exist. (By the way, the whole particle of dust blowing up and creating everything, just stupid, sorry.) So, I feel better. Hope you do as well. Keep climbing that corporate ladder d-bag.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • TJ

      The whole particle of dust thing would be stupid if that's actually what happened, but it's not. That's not what the big bang is and no science textbook ever describes it that way. Why is it that religious extremists, both christians and muslims, who diss science and atheism have absolutely no idea how science works beyond an elementary school level? And before you say anything, this is coming straight from the mouth of a believer in a higher power. Everything in science; big bang theory, evolution, abiogenesis, can coexist with a higher power outside the realm of this universe, though most probably not directly involved with this universe. Most Christians like you make Christianity look bad and ruin it for normal, easy going Christians like me. It doesn't help your case and certainly doesn't help mine. Evolution, Big Bang, and Abiogenesis are all facts. Deal with it. And these FACTS do not take away from my Christianity nor my belief in a God.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  10. JeffreyB

    It's not that Tim thinks that God is making his team win, Tim just gives thanks after each score. He feels that he should thank the All Mighty for giving him the strength and ability to do well. Nothing wrong with that and defineatly NOT saying that God is helping him win!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Mikey

      So God gave Tebow strength and ability but not the guy next to him?? Oh please, if there is a God, he/she has better things to do than worry about athletic ability.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  11. bear0402

    Do you not think there are not any devout Christians on almost every team in the NFL? And for as screwed up as this world is, I think he has better things to do than watch a football game.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  12. Chris

    Ok.....so....the one God.....creator of everything......wants Tim Tebow to win????

    Are you eff'ing kidding me???

    Soooo....following this line of crap......God.......hates all other football teams right????

    So...lets just stop he season and God will give Tim Tebow the trophy....simple nufff....

    December 12, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • derp

      Actually, it looks like god wants Green Bay to win.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  13. silliness

    Any success that any of us poor humans have comes only from one source – the Supreme Being, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Any other ideas are pure nonsense. Woe to the non-believer! Ramen.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  14. mort

    The short answer is no, there is no devine intervention because that is not possible. And for you people who think that there is, what happens when the Broncos lose a game – what then? Did god change his mind? Did god forget to care about a football game? Did god decide that he'd favor a player on another team who is equally devout just not as public about it? Did god decide it was time to stop cancer from killing people?

    I heard that jesus was going to attend a Broncos game, but he didn't make it. He got hung up.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  15. Jeff

    Is God on Tebow's side? Do you think there are no devout Christians on the Indianapolis Colts team?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  16. Alex

    just give him time sometimes , he will be caught something awful
    meanwhile let him pray to his God Jesus , but I do prefer him to do it shirtless

    December 12, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  17. joey

    nice religion, win football games, but keep children starving in sudan, brilliant fools

    December 12, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • A Guest

      I'm just hoping God brings me a new car for christmas....ohhh wait, that's santa clause...oh well, whoever, just bring me the car!

      December 12, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • BigJohn4USA

      Are you talking about the Muslims slaughtering the Christians in Sudan?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Jack

      And you? Sit at your desk job all day, drinking on the weekend, and not helping starving children in Sudan? lol, if I were to put faith in you or God, that's a no-brainer.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • what?

      that's where the missionary comes in.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • derp

      "if I were to put faith in you or God, that's a no-brainer"

      Apparently your god is no more powerful than joey because the poor folks in the sudan are still just as screwed as before you put your faith in god. Actually, I have more faith in joey because joey actually exists.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • ufadoof

      "Are you talking about the Muslims slaughtering the Christians in Sudan?" So the muslim god must be more powerful than your christian god. Or it's "gods will" to let muslims kill christians.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  18. frank

    I will say this, I see more of God's hand in the play of Tim Tebow than in the hand of these suicide bombers blowing themselves up and killing innocents in the name of their evil religion.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Jack

      Yeah, I'm a Muslim.... just to let you know our religion isn't evil. Every religion (and non-religion) has evil people who do evil things, but that doesn't make Islam evil.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Religion

      God played lousy for three quarters last Sunday. Maybe there was a hockey game on and he got distracted helping the winning team out.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  19. greg

    He doesn't throw the ball! And when he does, it isn't accurate. Please, everything else is working for the Broncos, but they aren't going to out-gun anyone in the league. Give some credit here to the D. Tebow is just the guy standing in and taking the snaps. Nothing more!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  20. Paul

    What an idiotic story. People suffer for years, praying the whole time, and still die. Yet God intervenes in a football game? What a load of tripe.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • what?

      life is eternal, but human life is not, we all die. Life is sufferage. God is in all of us, so it wouldn't be a stretch to say god intervenes with everything.
      God is not a man sitting in the clouds.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:48 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.