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. Nacho1

    You never know! God may be on Tebow's side! That being the case he should run for President and Obama should learn to play football! I would vote for Tebow but would not watch Obama play football! That must tell you something!

    December 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  2. mightyfudge

    So this "God" you speak of is busy controlling football instead of helping the sick, poor and starving. If true, he needs to have HIS butt kicked something proper.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  3. It's All Distractionism

    I live in Florida. Tebow in High school was considered the best Quarterback in the state. So of course he would be the most likely to play on the next level. But you have to come to the realization that this is Just football A Game! It's Nothing really important like Finances or Economics or Politics or any Major Scientific Discover. Football is just a form of distractionism from more important things in life.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jake

      I disagree. For those of us who enjoy football, it IS important. All of those other things are just necessities to create a world where we can enjoy things like football. Without football (or arts, etc, whatever floats your boat), economics, politics, finances, etc, are pointless.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Jo

    Okay, it makes sense to me why Christians want atheists or non believers to change. But what advantage is there for an atheist to try and change a Christian? Because they're annoying? There are a lot other types of annoying people out there that do a lot worst things. Just curious.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jake

      Jo, I, for one, want religious people to change because I believe it is unhealthy and bad for the world. I think it is wrong to teach children that it is ok to blindly believe something when all evidence and logic would suggest it is untrue. That type of thinking, or lack of thinking (sorry, but that's precisely what it is), is directly responsible for things like 9/11, the holocaust, etc. We want to get rid of religion because we want to make the world a better place for everyone. And on an individual level, we want YOU to be a happier person as well, which I guarantee you would be as an atheist.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jake

      Btw, I'm curious as to how you'd answer the same question. Why would you want me to turn religious? Is it only out of kindness (ie, you think you'd be saving my soul or something like that)? Otherwise, I don't get it...I'd just be one more person competing for your spot in heaven. 🙂

      December 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  5. mouse

    How sad, IF I believed in a god, I would dream bigger than a few won football games, my god wouldn't waste time on "games" but would rather be working to build a better world for us all to live in. I guess that is why I don't believe in fairy gods cuz he'd have to be able to do things I couldn't even dream of.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  6. Mike Manhattan KS

    I guess no one has noticed that the team rallies around him during the 4th quarter. The Bears beat themselves also through making mistakes that pros get paid not to make. The Broncos needed something to gel the team, and TB is that gelling point. No one has ever questioned his desire to win, now have they!

    December 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  7. griff griff

    I believe that God is being glorified through Tim Tebow. Sometimes, God will take the simple things in life to confuse the intelligent. I do believe that Tim is annointed by God and God, through His Son, Jesus the Christ, is making Himself known through Tim. Tim is definitely no NFL quarterback. But that is the position of high exposure, so God chose Tim to be in this position to speak to lost souls. I don't think there's any other way you could explain this. It's not about the wins and loses. It's very simple to believers. Hopefully, some people will come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior through Tim.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • TR6

      If that is the case, then all the other teams quarterbacks should be cursing god on camera for rejecting them and fixing the game against them

      December 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  8. Antonio

    In his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:5-6), Jesus says: "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Tim Tebow is not following Jesus' word. He is praying on his street corner to be seen by many others. A true Christian would not do this.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Antonio is the No True Scotsman fallacy.


      December 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  9. Smell the coffee

    Doesn't God have better things to do than win football games – maybe we should ask the 20,000 children that will die today from starvation???

    December 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Rob

    Yeah, God's a big football fan. The omniscient creator of the universe, who's nature and complexity is beyond all understanding, cares whether Tim Tebow wins a football game. He's taking care of a universe so large that it takes light billions of years to cross it, but God subscribes to the ESPN NFL Sunday Ticket, just so he can sit around in his shorts, pop a few brewskies and watch Tebow struggle for 3 1/2 quarters. Then, seeing as how Tebow is God's favorite football player, he does a little God-magic at the end and makes sure that the Broncos win. As if the very existence of God wasn't a big enough stretch, the idea of God intervening on behalf of a particular football player to win games is completely bizarre. He can't be bothered saving thousands in an earthquake or tsunami, he doesn't have time to keep little kids from dying of cancer, but football is so important that it justifies him taking a personal hand in the outcome of games. How are we even talking about this?

    December 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Dave Bing

      All things are from God! My inability to play football is from God..........Grow up.......Stop trying to belittle anyone with more faith than yourself.......You go Tim!

      December 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • claybigsby

      ok dave, according to you. And since you are no better than the people who wrote you bible, I will take your words with a few grains of salt.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Hey Dave, how about instead of attacking the guy who made the post, you list reasons why he is off-base. Why is it wrong to be confused about why God would help Tim Tebow and not help people that really need it?

      December 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  11. Geo

    So God will help a rich white man be good at football but let people starve and die horribly around the rest of the world?

    December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • TR6

      Yes, that’s how god works and is the Christian way. Just look at televangelists

      December 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  12. Rob A.

    Let us not forget that Tim Tebow has stated, "God is NOT interested in who wins the football game." As a Cathollic I believe he is a credit to the game and is certainly a role model for fans and non-fans. God bless him

    December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  13. Mary

    All of us can recive blessings if we do like Tebow and give glory first to God. It may not be the same but God's promise doesn't change, we do.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  14. mouse

    It really saddens me to read all the believers comments out there.....believing that some make believe all knowing god is favoring 1 man by helping him win football games when if there really was a god looking down he'd be trying to feed and clothe and house all our poor children.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  15. Checkit

    I am really excited about Tebow's success. He was not suppose to win one game. He wasn't suppose to have the tools. When it's all said and done, the elite perform in the clutch. No one believed in Tebow, yet he's won 5 or 6 in a row. This ain't college football. We talkin about freakin PRO athletes, PRO teams. TIM TEBOW CANNOT LOSE, NO MATTER WHAT THE STANDINGS SAY. He's got the foundation of a winner. True Leader. God Speed!

    December 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  16. Jesus

    It's simple – Tebow is in my fantasy football team.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      But Jesus, I thought you were a Notre Dame guy ???

      December 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  17. Tony

    Let me first say, I am no fan of Tebow – His college team (UF) beat my team (FSU) every year. However, I like Tebow as a person. He is one of the good guys in sports, which is usually made up of all "tatted up" criminals, hoodlums and absent dads. Sports needs more examples of good, honest christian players, like Tebow, to set an example for kids. It is silly to comment whether God has anything to do with his team winning. The fact is, every team he has beat either has a losing record or at most 1 more win than loses. Denver has had an easy schedule since Tebow took over. I see New England tearing up Denver this week. Brady will prolly not have to play the 4th quarter.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Snc735

      Tony, those same tatted up players and absent fathers playing football every weekend in the father are more than likely christian themselves. Your religion is full of hypocrites!

      December 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Snc735

      *minus* in the father. where's the edit function?

      December 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  18. hellenwheels

    I don't care what he believes, just keep football on the field and your beliefs/religion for your private life.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Snc735

      I agree, but it's just too hard for the Christians who have to proselytize their faith every chance they get.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  19. mouse

    I'm just waiting for Tim Tebow to start losing, becuase he will, and then let's see all the Tebowers saying he is chosen. You'all act like he single handedly won the Super Bowl or some such.......I thought Tim Tebow played on a team!

    December 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  20. Faith

    It really saddens my heart to read all the non-believers comments out there. And I find it very dis heartening that this article appears to be taking jabs at this young mans Faith. Whatever your beliefs are, be civil and stop all of the bashing of anothers beliefs and/or Faith. Personally I am proud to give thanks to My Lord and Savior every day. However, I would never use my praise for commercial use!! And I don't believe that Tim Tebow is doing that either. On the other hand, I do believe that there are many out there that are trying to do just that using Tebow's name. It's shameful!! And for those that don't believe in God, my heart goes out to you. But please, don't defame our beliefs. Our worshiping our Lord is just as important to us, as your not believing is to you. God Bless Tebow for being such a great role model for our children, and not afraid to voice his love of God and his Faith. Go Bronco's and May God Bless you all.

    December 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Why do you care what us heathens think of you? You get to play a victim/martyr like your hero JC and you get to lounge in heaven after death while we burn. You get all of eternity to be right after all, no? We just get a few decades, don't be so selfish.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Tim

      Why is it that your religious beliefs are off limits to others? You have no problem revealing your beliefs, so why should you shun criticism of those beliefs? For example, if I were to proclaim that fairies exist in my yard, chances are I would be asked to present evidence of said fairies. Otherwise, I may be considered insane. There are many books on fairies, and I may believe that these books are truth. So instead, I keep my fairy belief to myself, for I do not need to evangelize my beliefs.
      On the other hand, I could stand up for my fairy belief and criticize others for not believing in them. I could say that I am disheartened that some people may take jabs at my fairy faith and stand up for others that share my faith. I could make claims about fairies and their ilk. I could also share my belief that fairies are good role models for children. In addition, I could exalt one of my fellow believers because of their faith in fairies, allowing them to win football games and what not.
      No, your faith should not be above rational criticism. Unfortunately, you have hidden behind the conviction that it is.

      December 12, 2011 at 3:00 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.