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. RdclCntrst

    Okay, look. Whatever you think about Tim Tebow, let's all keep one thing in perspective: A talented athlete playing his sport well is not a miracle.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • PulTab


      December 12, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  2. Jesus

    I love the guys thanking God for their touchdown – like God doesnt' have more important things to worry about.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  3. Godfrey

    Another example of the absolute arrogance inherent in the idea of a personal god.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  4. 21k

    6335: that's how many of our fellow citizens have given their lives in iraq and afg so far. god sucks.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • PulTab

      Well said.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  5. Liz

    Tebow gets my respect. Strange, in a world so full of hate and cruelty and shaming and blaming that critics are just as quick to ridicule and question someone who is calling on God.

    We're a populace that loves the negative spin. If you don't like what he's doing, don't watch.

    It's likely not that God has especially singled out Tebow, but the fact that those who live with faith in something beyond themselves and also exude joy and passion, bring those qualities to whatever they do.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Godfrey

      In other words, "Strange, in a world so full of hate and cruelty and shaming and blaming that critics are just as quick to ridicule and question someone who is calling on a religion based on hate and cruelty and shaming and blaming."

      Does it really seem so odd?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  6. chris


    Well said my friend...well said. Not to mention the double standard of Him giving us free will, yet claiming that He has a plan for all of us.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  7. Sherry

    It's called favor! God favored Joshua, Jacob, David, John, and Tebow!!! It's not that others don't believe, it's that God is God and He can bless anyone He chooses!!! He is using Tebow to show the world that we are not in control!!! \O/ Bless His Holy Name!!!

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

      You're delusional

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

    god is on everyone side

    December 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • A Bears Fan

      He's clearly not on Barber's side.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  9. Sybaris

    Is god on Tebow's side?

    Well, you'd have to figure out which god and then validate that with the '72 Dolphins.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  10. blake

    god isn't interested in football because god doesn't exist.

    and don't you think it's a weird character trait for god to alter the outcome of a game simply because some quarterback makes a scene in front of some cameras and everyone makes a big deal of it? it seems that god is as easily distracted as any toddler, and just as unwise.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  11. PulTab

    Is it possible that too much attention is being paid to a lucky streak?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  12. The Bobinator

    > "If you were not a believer coming into this game,” said Fox's Daryl Johnston after the Broncos win, “you have to be now.”

    This has to be the single most stupid thing I have ever heard. "God exists because the Denver Broncos have had a winning streak because their QB prays."

    December 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Sybaris

      yeah, funny how their god would answer the prayers of a "christian" QB but not thos of "christian" amputees.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Grace1954

      I used to believe that too, but I have since heard of a regrowth of a limb through a friend of my son. So not that either atleast for me....<3 I still believe anyway. Go Tebow.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Bizarre

      Grace1954 -

      You are the type who falls for emails from former Nigerian princes who need your help reclaiming their trunks of gold.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  13. Angela

    Sure God is on Tebow's side. You couldn't miss him sitting in the stands. He was the white dude with the bright, glowing halo surrounding his head holding a weiner in one hand and swillilng a beer with the other.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  14. Realist

    http://www.GodIsImaginary and resides in the http://www.EvilBible.com

    December 12, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  15. Clara B. Jones

    On his blog (Why Evolution Is True) yesterday, Jerry Coyne expressed very strong views about Tebow's use of religion.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  16. Mary

    Yeah, God is sitting in his lazyboy every Sunday watching and helping Tebow win the games while he's munching on his chips and salsa and downing a beer.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • 21k

      "mary! get me another beer!"

      December 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  17. 21k

    fdr was a democrat, and god helped him stop hitler, over the objections of wendall wilke and the repuclicans at the time. god loves democrats more than republicans.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  18. David G.

    Seriously, this type of thing is still considered in the year 2011? Seems like openly giving credit to an "Invisible, supernatural, being" for helping you win a game, (or anything else for that matter), should logically get you a padded room somewhere.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  19. UltraAtheist

    If god is going to interfere with something related to football, why didn't he save those kids from being abused at Penn State?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Andrew

      Because football's more fun?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  20. Meaghan

    "A fake Jesus Christ [Twitter] account..."

    Why the need to specify that it's "fake"? Does the real Jesus have a Twitter account? Is he verified?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:50 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.