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. fearisenemy

    No reason to read past the headline on this one. Tebow suks. He is a QB who thinks he's a running back. Heck, Christian Ponder has more yards and just as many TDs in 3 fewer games than Tebow. If he were a RB and had to run before the defense scattered, then he would be a bad RB. The rest of his team is making him look better than he actually is. Besides, anyone who thinks "god" is involved in any way is a complete fool and that includes Tebow.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  2. I'm just saying.

    If his kicker would have missed that field goal, and the Bears scored on their offensive drive, we wouldn't be seeing "Tebow's loss". Tebow didn't win the game, his kicker did.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  3. steve

    he is a athlete with faith and his belief with or without football.
    the broncos are just figuring out how to win and getting the breaks. we all know how the press likes to spin a story.....

    December 12, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  4. janski80212

    Tebow's faith absolves him of ultimate responsibilities for his actions. Instead of letting his ego call the shots, he believes he is merely the vessel of his God's will. In a way....it removes weight from his shoulders, and allows him to deflect adversity.
    Never underestimate the power of a zealot!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  5. Knute

    Shouldn't cr@p stories like this appear on FauxNoise? Sorry, I'm heading on over to ESPN. Bye.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  6. Gemcos

    I think he's great. Why not have faith in what you want to achieve. He believes in God and also he believes his faith helps him be a better man and a better quarterback. Being positive is not a bad thing. His team also believes in him and being a team who stands together in football will make or brake your results in the end. Good luck to the Denver Broncos. If I wanted someone on my side it certainly would be Jesus Christ. Lets see what happens next week when they play the Patriots.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • jemzinthekop

      Being positive is a great thing! By claiming god had a hand in his victory he is claiming god made Marion Barber fumble the ball, which is claiming god changed the universe to affect the outcome of a football game at the expense of any individual.

      That is positively idiotic.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  7. 21k

    oh, isn't it great that god is a tebow fan or a football fan! i guess football is so much more important than things like the millions brutally murdered by hitler or the quarter million swept out to sea by the tsunami.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      God used to be involved in those things, but with the advent of hi-def...now he's glued to ESPN.

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

      God loves the man – Tebow – not football. He loves the man because Tebow loves Him, has a personal relationship with God, and submits to God's will. It isnt about football or winning/loosing. It's about a genuine faith.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  8. Average Joe

    I believe ... yes, I believe ... that there are other players on his team as well. What if one of them is an atheist? Will they God really let them win then? Or does Tebow's belief, because he is the QB, outweigh these other guy's non-belief. Hmmm. Or maybe Denver winning has nothing to do with religion or belief in God at all.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  9. jemzinthekop

    The Packers are undefeated... clearly god loves the Packers more. More importantly, all those children with cancer and birth defects, or all those living in poverty living with violence.... god really hates them because he didn't even give them a chance to win a football game. Now I get it... bang up journalism there CNN!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  10. smarish

    I wonder if he praised Allah every time, he would get the same camera coverage?

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

      I think it would be awesome if he prayed to Satan every time there was a field goal about to be kicked, or Vishnu or a pine cone. This article would surely be printed.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Average Joe

      I dont think he would be starting then

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

    God does not care about football. If anything, football is an idol to too many people. Eternal things, our hearts and the hurting matter to Him. But the Bible has a very basic principle that is at play in Tim Tebow's life:
    "But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor..." (I Samuel 2:30)
    Tebow honors God with his life. God honors him in return.
    And about the poor and hurting, just in case you didn't know; Tebow has built a hospital in the Philippines in an area marred by extreme poverty.
    About the rest of the starving people in the world, it's not God who is ignoring them, we are. While we indulge ourselves in our stuff here in America, Africa and many places in the world sinks in hunger. God never meant to rule this world when He made it, He gave it to us to rule and what you see is what we have done with it. But when we invite God into what we have done; He changes things. Just do an objective research in areas in the world where turned to God in humility, and see what you'll find.

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

      Like your comment Santiago! So true!

      December 12, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • 21k

      so does the whole team have to be xtian, or just the qb? does it apply to indian hindu cricket players? professional level or amateurs also? hitler's victims?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  12. mike

    Yea God is on Tebows side, too bad starving african children dont play football, maybe they'd have god too.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Santiago Rodriguez

      I understand that frustration. But people are starving because those who have plenty refuse to help those who have not. And trust me; one day, those who have plenty will answer to God for what they did with their stuff.
      Jesus was clear in addressing His followers: "Sell your possessions, give to the needy..." "whatever you did to the least of these you did it for me..."
      By the way, Tebow believes this as he is building a hospital in an impoverished area in the Philipines.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  13. Mike N

    Tim Tebow is simply a good Christian athlete who uses his God given free will to follow Jesus Christ and profess his faith as all Christians are supposed to do. God is not a Bronco fan but He is a fan of His children loving each one and He gave us a free will so we can freely choose Him. Curt Warner is another good Christian athlete as is Dion Sanders and many other athletes in all sports. Why is everyone so afraid to beleive? Why do they want everything now acting as they please since the last time I checked, caskets leave empty but for the body which returns to dust. Everyone can choose for themselves but "for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".

    December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Tom Howard

      Well said Mike!!

      December 12, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Charles

      You are a brainless moron for believing in this christian fairy tale. Religion, and mankind's blind faith in religion and using religion to justify any behavior has contributed to more pain, death and destruction than any force of nature. Get your head out of your ass and stop preaching about god and jesus (small case intentional).

      December 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  14. thegman

    Good for the Broncos and Tebow, but the headline bothered me. It makes it sound like God has a role in football, and that's just ludicrous! If Tebow wins because he believes in God, what does that say about all the other players on the opposing team who many are also praying for a victory?!?! Tebow could wish and pray to God all he wants, but he AND ALL THE OTHER BRONCOS must play hard and make the important plays to win the game. So if he looses the next 6 games he starts, does that mean he lost his faith or the God doesn't care for him? That thinking is just crazy...

    December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  15. StuckinGA

    I never believed in this "god" nonsense; eventhough it had been forced upon me since infancy. "Faith" is just an excuse for a bunch of suckers to give their money away. There are no miracles; just luck. Jesus never walked on water, changed water in to wine, rose from the dead, healed the sick...wake up people it is 2011.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Tom Howard

      I sincerely feel sorry for you, I really do.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  16. Bobo

    Let's just see how God is behind Teblow when they play a WINNING team. Besides the crappy Jets, they all won against CRAPPY teams. Just wait till they play the Pats.

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

      I agree. Because Tom Brady is god.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  17. hingedlwnb

    God isn't on Tebow's side as much as God must hate Marion Barber.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  18. catholic engineer

    I think that Tim is just a really good player whose charisma fires up his team. God's ways are inscrutible so I don't know about divine intervention. I suspect that Tim will end up like Jesus. When he's down, as everyone often is, the cries will change from "Hossana !" to " Cruficy him !". Or "see i told you so" from others.
    One reason that 2000 year old Book fascinates me is that whatever happens in our lives, we can find ourselves in scripture somewhere.

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


      First, let's be honest, he's not a really good football player, that's the biggest part of why he's getting so much coverage and why people are focusing on his religion so much, because he sucks and yet he's doing ridiculously well.
      Second, it's funny that you think you can shoehorn everything into bible story, such as making tebow into jesus. I mean honestly, what has tebow done to be jesus other than praise god and perform the miracle of winning a football game? Where do you fit in? Are you a tebow disciple? are you random jew #3?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  19. Dave

    Wow, maybe those millions of starving kids in Africa should get into football so God will pay a little attention them!

    December 12, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Santiago Rodriguez

      I understand that frustration. But people are starving because those who have plenty refuse to help those who have not. And trust me; one day, those who have plenty will answer to God for what they did with their stuff.
      Jesus was clear in addressing His followers: "Sell your possessions, give to the needy..." "whatever you did to the least of these you did it for me..."
      By the way, Tebow believes this as he is building a hospital in an impoverished area in the Philipines.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Mike

      Priorities, priorities.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • mep


      December 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Rob

      Why don't you pay attentiont to them. Instead of making ridiculous comments take the initiative, make a change, and let God work through you.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Mandi

      Or....maybe, just maybe....millions of Tebow fanatics will pay attention to the fact that Tebow actually cares about those starving kids. And maybe those fanatics will start paying attention to those kids too. And maybe some real good could come out of all this hooplah.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  20. Steve

    Scary – either God is so superficial that He is more concerned with an American football player and a game than with victims of abuse, neglect, and poverty all over the world, or we have yet another example of the self-righteous "I'm so special" arrogance that is dragging humanity down. Do you really think that any sort of God would waste time blessing a sports match, while His own priests molest children? And would you want that sort of God in charge of things anyway?

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

      Well Said.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • jed

      People want God to provide them the freedom to decide how to live their lives on earth and then blame God for the result of their service to worldly selfishness. God is just and righteous. Man and his selfishness is the problem and in Jesus Christ, God gave us all the ability to be reconciled to him. I join Tim Tebow in encouraging you to find out more through God's word.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Rob

      I dare you ask God to reveal himself to you! Just say "God if you are real I want to know you". His Love for you is without end.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Tom Howard

      Dragging humanity down? We humans need no help in that task. Seriously consider Je's response. God doen't molest children, we do. God doesn't start wars, we do. If you watch Tebow, he's not claiming to be "special". He's giving the credit to the one in whom he believes. I'd say he's one of those Christians that others might take seriously.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:59 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.