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. Jake

    Isn't it equally possible that the Devil is on Tebow's side and working against the teams he plays? If we're allowed to use magic to explain the Broncos wins, that's the story I'm going with.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • IceT

      Nope, this only works in one self fulfilling direction.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  2. Bejeesus

    Wow, anything passes for a God sign these days. If you believe this is Gods doing, I've got a piece of toast with Jesus on it to sell you!

    December 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Erik

      You might want to keeping that toast to yourself. Looks like you need it more that anybody else!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Clara

      It's a sign! The End Times are upon us! O Teebow pray for us!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  3. popcorn

    Tim Tebow is ANTi-CHRIST...... THE ANTi-CHRIST.... TRUE MARK THE BEAST and 666. Horseman. You suck in those games.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • scranton

      I am embarrassed for you.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Erik

      Wrong! Tim is using his public platform to acknowledge his faith in the one true God, Jesus Christ.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • kim

      What is your sin that you hide from and hate truth because your in bondage to it?

      December 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  4. Bizarre

    Athletes are notoriously superst-tious:

    "Known as the "Chicken Man," Wade Boggs would eat poultry before every game and was obsessively compulsive about his routine.

    He took exactly 150 ground balls during infield practice and had a fixation on time. He entered the batting cage at exactly 5:17 p.m. and ran wind sprints at 7:17 p.m.

    Before each at-bat, he would write the Hebrew word "Chai" – meaning life – into the dirt of the batter's box.

    Between pitches, he had a habit if he was playing defence: he'd swipe the dirt in front of him with his left foot, tap his glove two or three times and adjust his cap."
    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/columns/top10/superst-ition.html (remove the – between t-it for the link)

    -and more good ones at-


    December 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  5. popcorn


    December 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  6. JoeT

    Back in the old days, we used to have a rule or something about taking God's name in vain. Fortunately, we live in a more enlightened era when celebrities, star athletes, and politicians can fling it around willy-nilly. Shoot, we even have it on our money to show how much we worship it.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Erik

      More power to those who acknowledge the power of the Almighty in their lives!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • JoeT

      Indeed, it has been referred to as "The Almighty Dollar". Nice to know you're on board. With Mammon.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  7. Dean

    I don't understand why everyone is so surprized about Tebow's success. Let's see, he led his college team to be #1 two years straight, and he won the Heisman trophy. How could he NOT be successful in the NFL with those credentials?

    Then he gets judged by the scouts when he played poorly on ONE pre-professional game. How can you judge him on that one game, when the better gauge for skill is performance OVER TIME?

    I don't find it surprising at all that he's having so much success. It's just a continuation of his success from the college game.


    December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  8. rick

    I wonder if all these people who are bothered by Tebow bringing up God
    were also outraged by Muhammed Ali praising Allah?

    December 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • The Lord Almighty

      No. That's a different set of people.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • JEFF


      December 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Notaboutfootball

      Is it possible that GOD is using Tebow more as a vehilce to open a discussion about GOD, than it is about winning football games? Tim's sucess on the field has started a discussion about the existiance of GOD. GOD will not use someone to win a game (ie, players pointing to the sky thanking him for a touchdown), but he will provide them the visibilty and ability to discuss their faith. All Professional athletes that are Christian, should utilize their talents to tell others about GOD, instead of thanking him for their talents and their millions.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Tina

    I don't see wht the big deal is here. It can't hurt to have God on your side right? I know I want God on my side that is for sure. Tim has the whole team believing in themselves that they can win games. What is so wrong with that?

    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Kim

      I agree with you. I think it's nice that he isn't ashamed of his beliefs. If you are a believer then you believe that God walks with you at all times so why not out on the football field as well? I don't think this story was necessary. His beliefs are just that..His. There's no need to make a discussion out of them. All I know is whether you believe or not somehow his team is winning. Call it luck, skill, or divine intervention, they still are amassing Ws. Considering how he has been slammed by every sports writer, broadcaster, etc I am happy that it is turning out this way for him. And no I am not a Broncos fan.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  10. Sam

    Didn't you hear. Tim is Jesus!

    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Erik


      Tim worship Jesus and acknowleges him as his personal savior!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Clara

      Pray for us Teebow! Help these unbelievers to see God's Truth that you are His Son returned to us! Amen!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  11. Reality

    Dear Timmy,

    We welcome you to the 21st century with a much-repeated prayer:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • I'm about my Father's business

      So you're saying every account of the miracles performed by Jesus are just a hoax right? Does Madagascar not exist just because you've never seen it with your own eyes?

      December 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  12. Real

    No, God is not on Tebow's side. You think God cares what's happening on some stupid football field when there are starving children in undeveloped countries?

    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Sammy

      you think God cares about starving children in undeveloped countries when there are starving children in undeveloped countries?

      December 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • JEFF

      Forget the other countries.... WORRY ABOUT OUR COUNTRY BEFORE OTHERS..... BONE HEAD

      December 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  13. cbex

    I am glad to see that God is being mentioned even out of the mouths of unblievers and doubters. Tebow is not Christ or God, but he is choosing to liken himself in their images while proudly professing his love for God. Finally, there is a positive image in sports and people just can't seem to except that; I guess there needs to be a robbery or murder for people to be happy. And Tebow isn't the first, there were others like Reggie White and Kurt Warner. I hope and Pray Tebow Continues to stand For God and his beliefs......you know just Like the United States is suppose to do!

    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Another uneducated christian making a complete fool of themselves...
      Please provide proof that the United States is supposed to be religious.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  14. popcorn

    Dan Merica is a SATAN....


    A fake Jesus Christ account, @Jesus_M_Christ, tweeted: "I think Dad loves @TimTebow more than me."

    Look rise of false prophets. Just like harold camping.... BLASPHEMY....

    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Clara

      You will be judged by the Holy One for such blasphemy! Repent and turn to Our Holy Teebow for strength and forgiveness!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  15. Kevin

    Just look at every game, Tebow is doing nothing special. The other teams go into a prevent D which prevents you from wining 50% of the time. Guys are just slipping on the field leaving receiver wide open giving him big plays, why did Barber go out of bounds at the end of the game when if he stayed in it would have run them out of time and not given them the tying field goal. Why did Barber fumble in overtime when they were in field goal range already? It is god or just plain old good luck. Tebow is a subpar player with God or luck on his side.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  16. Wyatt

    Psycho is praying to his god to win a football game. That same god created the universe, people, and all of history? That seems a bit insulting to a god, haha. Christians are so unaware of their image. It's really kind of scary.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Kim

      People pray for all sorts of reasons so how is him praying for a good game or not to get hurt any different? Not to mention that teams have been praying before games for years. It's nothing new.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Clara

      O Teebow do not condem them for they know not your Holiness! Pray for us Teebow! Lend us your Holy Strength! Amen!

      December 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  17. Johnny 5

    Which God? is there a God at all? or is he just good at throwing a football?

    Throwing a God or religion into the mix just makes things awkward and less credible.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  18. QS


    December 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  19. IceT

    Believers are so desparate for a sign of God(s) that they'll attribute anything positive (even if it's negative to others) to a God(s).

    December 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  20. jumpinjezebel

    I have a t-shirt on order

    666" @

    December 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
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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.