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. Mark

    I think Tebow is great but God doesn't exist so this article doesn't do anything besides take up space.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      In view of the enigma of existence, it seems naive and arrogant to assert that God does not exist.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Mark

      God is a man-made creation born from fears and insecurities. Science is real and tangible. Intelligent life on other planets outside of our solar system? Yes. An imaginary guy who helps win football games and whose face appears on toast every couple of years? Not so much.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Jo

      @ Mark
      Just cuirous about where you categorize love?

      December 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Mark

      Love is a combination of two things:

      – It's part of the basic human emotions that allows our species to thrive and reproduce
      – Cultural influences

      But if you're a 13 year old girl, I'll go ahead and say that love defies explanation and it is the only thing that matters in the world. Happy now?

      December 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  2. Random

    With so much pain and suffering in the world I find it hard to believe that if there were a god, he/she/it would be spending their time helping a millionaire athlete win rather than helping starving children survive.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • OGR99

      I agree with your premise, but we must be careful. I expect God is using that millionaire athlete's money and time to help a lot of people, starving children included. I know He's using me and my family for that.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Faith is moving football players and child care workers alike. Hopefully you are similarly moved to take action on your concerns.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  3. Ethan

    OR isn't just as likely that Tebow is doing so well because he could actually be developing into a good QB? Also, Tebow started in week 7 against MIA and has started since. In that time the team he's beat include: MIA (bad team), twice SB (bad team), OAK (pretty decent team, but by no means a GREAT team), KC (BAD team,), MIN (bad team), CHI (Missing their QB and RB, so currently a BAD team), and NYJ (a pretty good, but still kinda average team). The team TeBow has beaten that are is playoff bound is that Jets, (and maybe but probably not the Bears and the Raiders). In that time, they also lost pretty badly to Det, a pretty good, but average team. Against those "Good" teams (Jets, Bears, Raiders), they beat the Bears and the Jets by a total of 3 and 4 points (Basically the definition of close games). My Point is that Tebow hasn't exactly been playing against the elite teams in football.

    How bout be stop looking at coincidences that look like fate or God's hand, and we look at how it is probably a combination of playing against average teams and Tebow developing into a decent QB? Which really sounds more likely? Why would God care about American Football people when he should really worry about his own existence first?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      You may naively deny the existence of our creator, but you cannot deny the power of faith to inspire football players and social workers alike.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • JBHedgehog

      @the Magus...Gawd is YOUR creator. Not mine. And to continue your comparison, Gawd died for your sins, not mine. Finally, keep your faith to yourself. I'll go with reason, fact and science.

      December 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  4. OGR99

    I don't believe God is interested in football at all. I do believe that God is interested in Tebow's character and how he represents his faith. While Kurt Warner would give Christ all the glory in success, I was disappointed that he didn't give Christ the glory in defeat. These guys are playing a game for a lot of money. Win or lose, they're already 'blessed', by the world's standards. That should be their message. "I understand I play a game and, win or lose, my God has blessed me."

    I'd sure like to have more men of Tebow's character than Ndamukong Suh's.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Godfrey

      "I was disappointed that he didn't give Christ the glory in defeat."

      Haha....oh, my Christ, you're funny. BWAHAHAHA! Oh. Wow. No, really. Whew.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • OGR99

      Godfry- Glad I could make your day.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Godfrey

      Haha.... aaaaaah. No, really. I owe you one.

      Mondays usually suck, but you've made this one bright and cheerful.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Love the contrast between reasoned expression sincerely written, and the mocking devil.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Godfrey The Mocking Devil From Hell

      Please, Magnus... I can't laugh anymore today. My stomach hurts.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • OGR99

      Godfry- I'll be praying for your tummy. 🙂

      December 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  5. mightyfudge

    Well that explains it! God is too busy managing Tim Tebow's professional sports career to deal with al the injustice pilling up on his watch. Makes perfect sense.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • OGR99

      We are responsible for the injustice in the world, not God. Unless robots are preferred.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Chuckles


      That's right! I forgot that generally when bad things happen, it's all our fault, but all the good stuff is directly from god, by the way how can I get the same rep so no one will blame me for stuff that's clearly in my control to a) stop and b) probably was me instigating it in the first place?

      December 12, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • OGR99

      Become a Democrat. That seems to be working for the President.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      God has inspired GR99; and others mock their Creator, in ignorance of how He works. Reading Job may help them understand the enigmas of existence. Innocents suffer; do what you can to ease the pain of the world as it is, not as you wish it where if you were God.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  6. John

    I like the fact that he openly/blatantly demonstrates his faith in God, everyone else is out of the closet and blatant with their vulgarity and ungraciousness to God. I just hope he doesn't do like the other NFL star who tweeted his angry rant against God when he dropped a game winning touchdown pass in the end zone last year. I don't care how committed and faithful you are to Christ you will have a time when it doesn't go your way or you don't win. I just pray he will be strong and faithful there as well. I pray on a regular basis when I face difficult problems on my job, and God has given me answers time and time again. Praise the Lord.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  7. Ken

    If you believe God is on Tebow's side, then you have to believe he is definitely against Oklahoma. First, they continue to have the year after year after year devastation from tornadoes. Next they had the huge earthquakes. Then to top it off, both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma lost football games that kept them out of the BCS. I blame it on Tom Coburn and his obstructionist policies.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  8. Bryan

    There are 400 billion stars in our galaxy, and even more galaxies in the universe. There are possibly more worlds out there than there are grains of sand on the earth. How could we be so niave to think that god cares about the denver broncos!?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Bryan, let's be amazed how God works in the hearts of those who accept their duties. We are agents of his mercy and action, the galaxies can take care of themselves.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jaimee

      It is not so much about the Broncos as it is about what is taking place now. GOD uses people and situations to remind us that HE is supreme and sovereign; and that HE loves us and has made provision for us to come to know HIM (i.e. the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ). Tim Tebow just happens to be the person of choice. At the end of the day isn't it rather reassuring to know that the same GOD who created the universe cares so much about you that HIS thoughts towards you are greater in number than the sand...Just think about that for a moment. 🙂

      December 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  9. Mikarvur

    This is so stupid! Even if there is a God why in the hell would he care about football or any other sport? Wow CNN. You post some stupid crap sometimes.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Logic

      Not sometimes, pretty much every day...

      December 12, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  10. Buck Tejas

    God is a Broncos fan? That's ridiculous. Everyone knows that God is pulling for the Cowboys.

    This blog is not even worth posting on CNN, supposedly a "news" company.

    There is no proof of any so-called "god." Call it faith, and I'll tell you that real faith is living your life on this planet WITHOUT believing in a supreme being who knows or cares about the details of your life–or which sports teams you root for, which political party you vote for, which economic system you subscribe to, etc. Faith is living with courage in the face of reality–there is no "god the father, son and holy spirit." The universe is impersonal, and it does not "care" about sports or any other human endeavor. Americans need to grow up.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Chuckles

      Oh yeah? If god isn't a Broncos fan, then why are sunsets Blue and Orange?!

      BOOM! (That was me, just blowing your mindhole)

      December 12, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Buck, that is just a naive and arrogant view; time to humble yourself before the enigma of existence and to act on the moral consciousness you had no role in placing within your own brain.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  11. BIGBEN

    Well, if his belief in God is what keeps him going and performing .. so be it and I am happy for him. I perform well in my job because I believe in my family. Whats the difference? We all have something that keeps us moving and doing well.. for him its God. You know.. if it wasn't for the faith in God..chances are America would not be America. The hell they lived through and the only thing that really kept them going was their faith in God. So there is merit in what Mr. T is doing.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  12. marianne

    What a load of bull!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  13. Steve

    God's role in football? The same as pink elephants role in football.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Godfrey


      December 12, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  14. acm


    December 12, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  15. Nonimus

    I feel sorry for all those devout athletes that haven't made it. Apparently, they haven't been praying enough or correctly or to the right god or something.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Godfrey

      It's not that. It's just that the Baby Jesus hates them.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  16. nwi

    Tebow should be thanking Marion Barber, unless this is all because God hates Marion Barber.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • mightyfudge

      And his Defense and Special Teams, you know, for actually winning the games for him.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  17. DukeHoya

    This is the most ridiculous story I've ever heard. It's media talking about what the media is saying. And quoting FAKE Twitter accounts. AS IF real Twitter tweets are news. Don't you think Telander and Strahan are trying to be funny????????
    What is wrong with you people.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  18. Greg

    Just shut up. Now I have to listen to this "Tebow is the next coming of Jesus BS" for a whole nother week. Someone please beat the crap out of Denver so I don't have to listen to this nonsense anymore.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  19. Not All Docs Play Golf

    How would the Christian evangelical right wing football fans respond if a Buddhist player gestured to Buddha in the end zone? Would they also see that as heartwarming and inspiring?

    December 12, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  20. David

    This is actually theologically very true. Have you ever wondered why there is pain in the world? Suffering amongst children? People starving to death? Natural disasters? It is actually because God is busy watching football.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Andrew

      Sort of like,well, a regular guy...

      December 12, 2011 at 10:28 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.