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. Ol' Yeller

    If Tebow has the Allmighty on his side and believes so faithfully, then why all the pads and helmet? Perhaps he should just come out in his flowing white robes and his halo as protection. Then I might believe he has a direct line to Christ.
    Seriously, I'm all for the young man and his right to worship as he pleases. But, that being said, if he truly took his prayer stance in the endzone, he should be be flagged just like any other player who excessively celebrates. The Bible says prayer should be a private thing between oneself and God... not something to market, which is what he is doing with the help of CNN.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • No one knows the TRUTH

      Myths are for kids....

      December 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  2. Mike

    God on Tebows team? please... look at the teams the Broncos have beaten since Tebow became the starter. Only two have a winning record the Jets at 8-5 and the Raiders at 7-6. The Jets may end up with a winning record but are not a very strong team and the Raiders will be lucky to finish at .500. The AFC is perhaps the weakest division in the NFL and regardless of which teams ends up winning the division they will be one and done in the playoffs. The reason for the Broncos wins isn't divine intervention it's the reason most of those teams they beat have losing records, because they make poor decisions and just plain fail to execute in key situations.

    I suppose that it will be impossible to convince people gulible enough to believe that an invisible man in the sky controls everything and see's the face of jesus on a piece of toast that the Broncos won those games because the teams they played handed them the win by making huge mistakes like running out of bounds and stopping the clock as Marion Barber did and then fumbling the ball away in OT while in field goal range.

    If Tebow can take the Broncos to the superbowl and beat the Packers then the believers could make an argument until then so what they beat 5 teams with losing records, hardly divine intervention.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • streetsmt

      The incredible claim that God exists will be proved when Tebow beats the Packers and wins the Supe Bowl?

      December 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jimdub

      Umm....the Bears were 7-5 going into the game also...

      December 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  3. ABN

    Joe T. is riding the HELL express !!!!!

    December 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Sounds like a fun ride! I would rather believe in no God than the egotistical, bi-polar maniac that religious people believe in.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  4. Rob

    There are soldiers overseas praying to God to not be blown up on their next patrols, only to get hit the next day. There are parents praying to Jesus that they will be able to provide food for their families, only to loose their jobs the next day. There are people praying that their loved ones will survive long enough to receive medical care, only to have their hopes dashed when those loved ones do not make it until the medical care can be provided. Do you really thing that God is listening to a man playing a game, and answering his prayers before answering those of the truly needy? If so, he is a very cruel, and sarcastic God. Think about it. Stop turning Tim Tebow into some Channel for the Almighty.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • WordUpToo

      Amen Rob...sums it up perfectly!

      December 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • kevin

      Thank You!!

      December 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • No one knows the TRUTH

      I don't want a God who wastes his time with football.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Lawrence

      Man is bestowed with Freewill. God cannot and will not control people. Someone getting blown up by an evil person has nothing to do with God. Someone losing his/her job because of the Greed of a Company has nothing to do with God. If companies sought lesser profit margins to keep employees instead of laying them off that would be great. God cannot be blamed for the evil men do.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • kevin

      God cannot be blamed for tebow.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  5. us1776

    It was huge Bear mistakes that cost them the game.

    There was no excuse for Chicago to lose this game.

    Tebow had nothing to do with it.


    December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      God hates Marion Barber is the only explanation that makes sense to me. I also think Tebow could be the anti-christ. I wouldn't rule it out.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Mordrud

    I can tell you he's NOT on Dan Snyder's side.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  7. Brandy

    The bible says that tongues are only appropriate in private prayer to God, or if an interpreter is available, can be used in church. This is serious business and people shouldn't be making fun of the faith. God is awesome and will use whatever He wants for His glory. Even Football!

    December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Mark Yelka

      God is a puppet. People are the puppeteers.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  8. Joe T.

    This might be the dumbest article I have ever read in my life.

    I would love to believe in a God who lets the little starving children in third world countries suffer and would rather have his interests invested in a freaking football game. Sounds like a stand up guy.

    This is just a stupid article and CNN should be ashamed of themselves for putting it up.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  9. kevin

    Yes, God like Teblow better than other players. wow!! this guy has all of you fooled. do you mean to tell me that just because Teblow goes to church (and lets everyone know about it) that God likes him more than someone who doesn't go to church??? Wow, is he really vengeful?

    December 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • harry bean

      It must mean that the Bears just didnt pray hard enough for a win...

      December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  10. Recovering Republican

    As a die hard Gator fan I have enjoyed watching Tebow play football since the time he was only used on third and short yards. Since then I have seen a devout man who is a natural leader, and as Broncos fan, I was thrilled that he landed there.
    Tebow is a future hall of famer, not due to his athletisism, but due to his smarts and state of the art work ethic. Tebow is Roger Stabauch and Bruce Jenner all rolled into one, and he is making believers one at a time.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      The rapture will happen before Tebow gets into the HoF.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  11. ABN

    Well if some of you actually read the bible you would know that God does show favor. Not saying that he is showing favor to Tebow but it surly looks that way to me but only God knows and you don’t so don’t say what God is doing when you don’t believe in him or read the bible. It’s all about faith

    December 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • No one knows the TRUTH

      But there is no God silly. Myths are for children goofball.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • BelieveDat

      I will say what I want, about whom I want, whether I believe or not. Telling people not to talk about Jesus because they don't believe in it is another way of saying "Don't question my incomprhensibly indefensible beliefs because if you comment on them at all without agreeing with them you will see show just how much they are based in an absurd fairy tale reality that would make a CGI shrek blush"

      December 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  12. momof4

    What I get from this is they are saying that Tebow and the Broncos are so bad the only way they can win is by supernatural intervention? That seams kind of mean to me

    December 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  13. Toymaker

    This has to be one of the most ridiculous (and stupid) articles ever written. We've all seen players on both teams pray before a game. Many players pray in the locker room. We just don't see it like we see Tebow all of the time. So if BOTH teams have players praying to God, how does God pick his favorite team? Does he go with the favorite, or hope the underdog covers the spread? Is he playing the over-under? Or does he simply assert his divine intervention for players on his fantasy team? I wonder if he got first pick in his fantasy draft. Why would God have any interest in the outcome of a football game!?!?!?!?!

    December 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • D

      Apparently he likes the ones who 'show off' while they're doing their prayin?

      December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  14. webo

    Concerning Sy2502 comment: The genocide mentioned is the result of man walking away from God in the beginning. God hopes you'll see how screwed we've made it and return to Him.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      That is the silliest thing I've ever read.

      Reread your post, over and over again, until you realize just how idiotic you sound.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Joe T.

      So it's our fault that people in the world are suffering? The reason for you saying this is because we have the power to stop it, as the human race, yet we do nothing? You mean sort of like how God has unlimited power yet lets people suffer? God has more power than humans, so that would make him even more at fault than humans. Your logic makes no sense. Little starving children in third world countries are supposed to suffer because of some choice of other people that they can't even comprehend? So much for a fair, loving God.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  15. Mark Yelka

    It's the power of belief. Belief in Santa helps some kids to be nice. Some play harder and win better when they've psyched themselves via their imaginary gods. Some find that they can be killers because of their belief. While this particular outcome might be benign, the whole concept of believing in imaginary beings has profoundly dangerous implications.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  16. harry bean

    Tim Tebow can SUCKKKK IT.....

    December 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  17. D

    Of course he isn't! There's no such thing as Tim Tebow.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  18. i am second

    The amazing thing about God is he cares about you. To think that God should not be concerned about Tebow is only admiting that you don't think he cares about you. If you did not think or know it then consider it and may it change your life to know that as big as the world is and as many as are its issues, God has his eye on you and loves you. Tebow can know it and believe, a mother struggling to feed her children can know it, and believe and even you no matter what evil you can consider to be in this world God loves. The same God who watches over the sparrow watches over you. God loves those who play against Tebow as much as Tebow but how many of them have you taken time to write about. Its not the game of football that has people talking about God but its the courage of one young man, willing to say I believe and I can do all things through Jesus Christ that has you blogging

    December 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • streetsmt

      @ i am second
      You should be honest with yourself. You don't believe any of this stuff. You just hope it.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • faceonmars

      All wishful thinking
      I can only imagine the reaction of the public (mostly Christians), if someone similar to T.B. said and did what he does and then at the end of the winning season thank the Greek Goddess Nike (yes, true Greek character) ... or to make it more realistic, that he followed Islam and praised Muhammad. People shouldn't be surprised or care, it's the most rapid growing religion out there (possibly caused mostly by rising birth rates).
      I'm an Atheist who believes the players should be credited with the good fortune which occurs through their own hard work and dedication, also through the actions of all the players and coaches on both teams. The truth is, that it takes players and coaches with less talent to make the other team look and play better.
      Players believe what and who they want to believe in to give their own life a moral compass – but please keep it to yourself.
      I'd be keeping my own beliefs to myself if I didn't have to see ridiculous articles like this one.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  19. Dave

    Denver has won 6 games in a row. Clearly winning 6 games in a row is an act only possible with divine support. Silly atheists.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • D

      One can only speculate as to who/what is supporting Green Bay's 13-0, though 😉

      December 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • batteryinme

      They are called Packer fans.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • football god

      clearly ....
      ... and so that would mean that the Packers winning 13 straight .... is the devils work?

      December 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  20. KTF

    God is everywhere at once and He would like to be intimately involved in every single aspect of our lives. If it matters to us, then it matters to Him. He does this or makes this option available to us, because He loves us. To say that God doesn't care about one thing or another is not right. If it involves mankind, then God cares about it and He is intimately involved. There is nothing too small or too large for Him to care about. Period, end of story.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:19 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.