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. Jamey Carothers

    Right. So God is a Bronkos fan? Does anyone in their right mind thinks that God "watches" or likes NFL football? And if so, does anyone actually think that because Tebow is outspoken in his naive beliefs that God favors him over Drew Brees, who incidently puts his time and his money to great use doing good things for people- while his mouth is noticably quiet.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • joco

      So is he better because he does not talk about Jesus?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • pt6071

      That's the point–God is completely irrelevant to this

      December 12, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • nsweeney

      Your statement is unfortunate. If you look over what Tim says, he would never suggest that God favors him at all nor does God have concern over an outcome of a game. God does indeed care about everyone of us. Sometimes certain people will carry his message. At this point in time I really don't think Tim Tebow is primarily a football player anymore. I think he is a person carrying God's message and will do so long after football is over.

      I suppose that this is the other side of this issue. Tebow gets a lot of criticism yet he has become a role model for millions of people. Considering what we see from a lot of professional athletes, I like what I see in this young man.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  2. James

    Can't be that God is helping Tebow because I know for a fact God is a Packer fan. I liked this guy when he played in Florida and am enjoying his success in Denver. I wish everyone would leave the guy alone and just let him do his thing. I admire him for openly displaying his Christian feelings and beliefs when most of us are afraid or ashamed to let others know how we feel about our Saviour and Redeemer. If you are one of those that has a problem with him, then turn the channel, turn off the radio, put down the newspaper. The guys you probably like do things that are irritating to others but you don't see the media hounding them week in and week out. Keep up the good work Tim and keep shining your faith.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  3. Portland tony

    OMG. CNN insults any God fearing group by insinuating that Devine interference is allowing the Denver football team to win games while children are dieing in Denver area hospitals?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  4. Max in NY

    "I've often thought people treat God rather rudely, don't you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday His day off. It's not nice. And it's no way to treat a friend."- George Carlin

    December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  5. Bob Barber

    "A fake Jesus account tweeted..."

    There's a real one?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • pt6071

      I wish this had a 'Like' button

      December 12, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  6. God

    God is to busy trying to feed people to watch football.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  7. pt6071

    Meanwhile, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have had tremendous rookie seasons without a word about Jesus...

    December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  8. Jimbo

    If he were Gay, would his success be because of that? Would it make the article? He believes in God. So do a lot of people. Now if he fails to win, will the fans blame God or credit the other team? I admire him for standing by his beliefs. He comes across as a grounded and disciplined athlete. Too many are not....but, then that can be said of politicians. For me...his is an over-achiever because he believes that God gave him the tools, but he has to use them. He is a winner.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • pt6071

      That's how religions always work–if something good happens, God gets the credit, but if something bad happens, it must have been something else.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  9. Bob

    If I was a christian I'd find this article disgusting. Actually, I find it disgusting anyway.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  10. K2

    God is on Tim Tebow's side and Tim Tebow is on God's side and none of it has to do with football or the outcome of the games he plays in. Tim Tebow said it best (and I paraphrase) "God doesn't care about the outcome of football games". Maybe what God cares about is that the public sees someone that puts God first, others second and himself last and is doing so with dignity and kindness.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Dan

      I'm sorry but you have to be a moron to think God is on Tebow's side. God's on everyone and nobody's side. You know who's on Tebow's side? His defense. Which is playing tremendous right now but as soon as they run into a good offense, the Broncos are toast. Let's get out of the middle ages people.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • rob

      Except Tebow plays along and said that God may have helped Barber step out of bounds when a player and coach know what the main goal of that play really was.

      I didn't realize God made some people stupid.

      My God doesn't like what Tim Tebow did yesterday. I think Tim Tebow is the Devil.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • George

      You make a powerful argument against those who say that God doens't care about football.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • K2

      Dan, God is on everyones side who wants Him to be and he's even pulling for those who don't. And like I mentioned in my post, even tim Tebow said he doesn't think God cares about football games, so he admits he's not getting divine help in playing a game.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • CMW


      December 12, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  11. nsweeney

    The reality is that this isn't about football. It is about how someone deals with the challenges in their lives. Tebow the athlete will soon disappear as all athletes do. But his legacy as a person of faith will last much longer.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  12. BigJohn4USA

    God is not on Tebow's side. Tebow is on Gods side.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Which God? There are lots of god's in human culture and history. Is YOURS the one and only true God? How original.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • David

      One question; Which God was on Muhammad Ali's side?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  13. Not All Docs Play Golf

    The third commandment, thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, is not about cursing.....it's about invoking God's name for self-gain ...like the plumber who puts the Christian fish symbol in his yellow pages add to help his business, or invoking his name for trivial reasons, like the idiots who mix God and football. To credit jesus for your touchdown is pretty presumptuous. Kinda goes along with the "prosperity Gospel" nuts who think God rewarded them with wealth.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • nsweeney

      Giving the credit to God for all we are is not presumptuous. It is an acknowledgement of who should receive the praise. Tim Tebow is simply making sure that he honors God rather than take glory for himself. Humility should not be considered presumptuous.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • joco

      Who else should get the credit for your God given talent ??? Oh I forgot, little old prideful meeeeee.... It's very refreshing to see the truth.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Luke

      Why wouldn't God reward his people with wealth? Do you think God wants all of his followers to be poor? What better way to witness to non-belivers than by showing that if you put God first and honor him in everything that you do then He will reward you. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

      December 12, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  14. Coloradan

    Tim Tebow and Jesus are proving to be an unbeatable combination. The kid deserves to go to the pro bowl and he will be leading the Broncos to the playoffs, THIS YEAR. No more doubting Tebow, the guy can play. Who has meant more to his team this year than Tebow?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • JB

      Uh, Peyton Manning, perhaps?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • rob

      Just about every quartback, and featured running back on teams that have 7 or more wins deserves more credit than Tebow. Teams win 6 games in a row and don't make the playoffs. This is not over. The Broncos resemble a team that all of the sudden cannot find another win. Their streak is due to good defense and major mistakes by other teams. Yesterday's game was God Aweful!!!

      Devnver was being shut out for 55 minutes of the game yesterday and relied on a major mistake by a backup running back. In fact if you look at all of Devers wins, there is 1 or 2 major mistakes by the opposing team in the last quarter that cost them the game. Good for Denver, because coaching can win or lose games and turnover usually decide games. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins – the rest is just entertainment.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  15. DA UnBEARable

    God does not have anything to do with Tebow winning...why would he let a team like Detroit destroy them??? the Bears lost their offense (Cutler and Forte) and have a terrible coaching staff...cats out of the bag...without those two Bears are NOTHING

    December 12, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  16. True Light

    Interesting reading this articel, but funny how CNN never mentioned which God is in reference at this article? it is Christian's? Mulsims'? Hindos? etc. etc.

    Have we come to a point where we can not even name which God is in reference of a three page article on one of the biggest news netwrok worlwide? It seems to be offending to mention Jesus name but all other rubbish is persumed apprporiate, including every scandal of each celeb!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  17. tstorm

    Religious extremism is dangerous no matter what the religion. For this stupid jerk to think that God actually cares about an NFL football game is the height of arrogance!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  18. pt6071

    So... God is blessing one guy on the Broncos roster while he's apparently totally ignoring thousands of other guys who'd kill to play just a single game in the NFL. Sounds legit

    December 12, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  19. Nick

    The fact that we have air in our lungs, we breath the breath of life and we have the capacity to ponder such things and discuss them together in "cyberspace" is a miracle in it's self. Life IS a miracle, a gift is more accurate. You can still sit here and chalk up everything as dumb luck, pure chance from the great cosmos, but if your were honest with yourself you would see that it takes more faith to believe that we all came from chance. Your are no accident, you are a child of God, you are loved, so much so that God sent His only Son to come and die so that you may know just how much He loves you. Tis the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • pt6071

      Give primordial Earth a few billion years and yes, chance can do lots of things. Ever heard of the monkeys with typewriters joke? Given enough time, all possibilities of a random system will eventually occur.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  20. Dave

    Wow. I normally just pass over the "what the hell has happened to CNN" posts you get all over this site, but this article was just jaw-dropping. It reads like an April Fool's piece.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:32 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.