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My Take: Momma’s boy Tim Tebow meets playboy Tom Brady
Tim Tebow is having a great year, but the author says his appeal runs much deeper.
January 13th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Momma’s boy Tim Tebow meets playboy Tom Brady

Editor’s note: Patton Dodd is the managing editor of Patheos and the author of The Tebow Mystique: The Faith and Fans of Football’s Most Polarizing Player.

By Patton Dodd, Special to CNN

Denver, Colorado (CNN) - A few weeks ago, a joke made its way around Denver about Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ living legend, and Tim Tebow, the raw Broncos quarterback who is turning in a legendary season. It went something like this:

Tom Brady dies and goes to heaven and is greeted by God, who shows him to his new house – a cozy, modest home with a Patriots flag flying from the porch. “Gee, thanks God!” says Brady, feeling very special.

As Brady walks to his door, he notices another house down the street – a sprawling, gorgeous home with a 50-foot pole flying a Broncos flag, a swimming pool shaped like a horse, and a Tim Tebow jersey pinned to the front door.

“Um, God?” Brady begins. “I’m not ungrateful, but I don’t get it. I won three Super Bowls and went to the Hall of Fame. Why does Tim Tebow get a better house than me?”

God chuckles. “That’s not Tim’s house,” he replies. “That’s mine.”

It’s not a very good joke, but it neatly summarizes cultural attitudes toward Brady and Tebow, whose teams meet this weekend in the second round of the NFL playoffs.

Brady is a quarterback’s quarterback; his fellow players voted him the best player in football at the beginning of 2011, and he rewarded their admiration with another spectacular season. He’s been at this for a while – he was the winningest playoff quarterback of the last decade – and he’s settled into a life reserved only for guys like him: really good at sports, plus really, really, really good-looking.

Brady dated actress Tara Reid during his initial rise to fame, then settled into a relationship with actress Bridget Moynahan, with whom he had a child.

By the time the child was born, Brady had moved on to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, to whom he’s now married and with whom he’s built a Brentwood, California mansion. (Forbes named them the world’s highest-paid celebrity couple.)

Brady’s post-game press conferences can be fashion shows. When my wife and I lived in Boston, we would watch Patriots game coverage until the conference began so we could spy Brady’s gingham shirts, thick-knotted ties, and pocket squares. No matter how tough a game he played, Brady looked ready for the red carpet. The man can wear a suit.

Tebow is something else altogether – an apparently God-blessed raw talent who wins games with a little bit of passing and a whole lot of prayer. Haters aside, he’s the most popular athlete in the nation.

He’s also made football itself more popular this year, drawing in admirers who wouldn’t be watching otherwise. Last weekend’s Broncos-Steelers matchup drew the highest television ratings in the history of the wild card round.

A Zillow.com poll named Tebow America’s Most Desirable Neighbor, and anyone who has sat through one of Tebow’s press conferences (or read his autobiography) can see why. Whatever you think of his faith commitments, he’s the genuine article. He builds orphanages and visits with sick kids and deflects praise and plays the game like a kid whose parents wouldn’t let him go outside until all the chores were done.

Brady is the guy every teenage boy wants to be. Tebow is the guy every teenage boy’s mom wants him to be.

Both quarterbacks overcame low expectations. Brady was drafted in the sixth round and seemed destined to life as a backup until Drew Bledsoe was severely hurt in Brady’s second year. Tebow was drafted in the first round, a move that every expert opinion deemed a mistake.

Both emerged in breakout fashion. Brady’s first season as starter turned him into a famous football player. Tebow’s is turning him into a cultural phenomenon.

What’s the difference? Why is Tebow’s fame supercharged? Why does Brady get a Brentwood mansion with Gisele, but only a quaint house in heaven?

Recall that Brady’s rise happened in the fall after 9/11, which was also an era before media platforms were numbered like stars in the sky. The nation is in a different mood now, and for better or worse, we have new, more powerful ways of making people famous. Twitter, Facebook and a billion blogs helped Tebow saturate everything.

But the biggest difference is that, in Tebow’s case, religion is a factor. Brady, a cradle Catholic, became famous as an athlete. Tebow is becoming famous as an athlete, acolyte, and avatar all rolled into one.

Tebow the athlete is fun to watch with his passion and flashes of brilliance. Tebow the acolyte – the devoted follower of God – is easy to admire, and even those annoyed by public piety can be won over by his goodheartedness and the sheer joy with which he plays the game.

Perhaps most acutely, he’s a cultural avatar. The internet meme “Tebowing” took off because it’s a readymade symbolic gesture people can use to express themselves against our scoffing, serious times.

Brady is a great football player. Tebow is a great football story, and stories are immersive – they give us a chance to get involved, to see ourselves through them.

Tebow’s story tees up the questions that frame many people’s lives: Is God involved? Can he help us overcome? Can he help us win? What if he stops helping us – where is God when our critics are correct, when our flaws are exposed for everyone to see?

Saturday’s game will likely be the most-watched second round playoff game in NFL history. Millions will be watching because they want to see how the story will unfold, and the hero most of them will be rooting for is not the playboy, but the momma’s boy.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Sports

soundoff (1,294 Responses)
  1. NaySay

    I am really sick and discouraged at the constant sniping between culty atheists and culty fundamentalists - about football!! This article was a tiresome and offensive Evangelical manifesto - and so it reasonably generated a lot of tiresome "so's your mother!"s in return. 7 out of 10 Protestant "pastors" don't believe in evolution! So, IMO, we aren't dealing with intelligent people here, but there's not a lot of sense on either side. Those of us who are NOT atheists and NOT evangelical wingnuts are sick to death of BOTH of you. Have a beer or take an ativan and watch some football and leave the rest of us alone to do the same.

    January 14, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • GAW

      Thank you. I think your comments speak for the majority rather than a bunch of kids who spend most of their day trolling throughout the internet. It goes to show that balance is hard to find these days. Extremists have hijacked almost everything here.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Ed

      your ignorance is ego expose you for what is not in your heart. Repent toward God and place your faith and trust only toward The LORD Jesus Christ. ( Acts 20:21)KJB. 'Life is short, death is sure, sin the cause , CHRIST THE CURE ' Take the cure. And if you really want to learn something concerning science as it relates to the natural world, check out the writings of Dr. Kenneth Ham or Dr. Henry Morris. Another site that may give you a some more information you could understand is : icr.org. No evolutionist has ever won a debate with any of the top creation scientists. EVER . That should tell you something. (I Cor. 8:2)KJB

      January 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're full of crap, Ed.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • UncleM

      Ed – there is no such thing as a creation 'scientist'. You can't 'win' an argument with an ignorant person incapable of rational thought.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Lew

      evolution has not been proved..just saying

      January 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's been shown to be the most likely explanation.

      Can you say that about "GODDIDIT"?

      January 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • rad666

      Doesn't Tebow know that God was created by man for man and woman is a second class person? Which major religion actually has a woman as savior?

      January 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • GodLoves Everyone

      @rad666 – Hinduism

      January 15, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  2. Bill

    This guy Tebow is making a mockery of the things people of faith consider a personal matter. How anyone prays or shows their thanks to their God is not a matter for public display. He's from Florida so that explains a lot and he's also from a teavangelical preacher sort of family, etc. so not much else needs to be added to this PK's credentials. Can you immagine if his team manages to pull of a win like 16 to 3 or something. Hell be waiting for an opening in the Trinity!

    January 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • jzaks

      My my, don't we have a chip on our shoulder.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Goodguy1

      Religious display and religious people do bother other folks, especially the ones that say they are so open minded. Tebow is a great dude and represents the NFL well. Finally a real role model for children in the NFL.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • JacklynD

      Religious grandstanding leaves me feeling queasy and uneasy and uncomfortable with the people doing it because it makes them seem ignorant and delusional. Putting so much religiosity into sports seems sacrilegious.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • JB

      Hater Alert !!!

      January 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Alert: JB is an idiot.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  3. Pats Fan Doug

    Tebow is a great guy. Selfless and charitable. Brady is a great guy. Selfless and charitable. Brady is also a great quarterback, at the end of his career he will be among if not above the best of all time. Tebow is a decent football player(so far in his young career) that is having an amazing run, but it remains to be seen if he will ever reach the top of his profession. Do the guy(Tebow) a favor and stop comparing him to the greats. If he wants to pray, so what? Who is it hurting? He should put his prayers into overdrive for this game...he's going to need all the help he can get!

    January 14, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • flyingram

      "Brady is the guy every boy wants to be..."

      Ummm...I don't think so.

      This poorly written article confuses a fundamental flaw common to many professional athletes: The difference between what a person does and what a person is.

      LATE BREAKING BULLETIN:
      Not all guys think it's cool to have a string of babes in each town, cheat on their wives, and have a sickening reputation of having children – then abandoning them.

      Real surprise, eh?

      January 14, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • David

      When Tebow gives the majority of his money that he makes from the NFL and endorsements to the poor. I'll consider him a good guy. Until then he jury is out.

      January 15, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • cowboysblowgoats

      "Not all guys think it's cool to have a string of babes in each town"

      All of the het eros exual ones do.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  4. Wendy Reizer

    That was a very well-written compare and contrast article. And it rings true on all fronts.

    Let's see who's on his game today.

    January 14, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  5. Bob

    Hey, "Atheism is not...", your hordes of cats are hungry. Go feed them. There's no god to do that for you.

    Try praying to god for your cats to be fed for a few weeks instead of caring for them, and see where that gets you.

    And your omnipotent but apparently egomaniac "god" needs prayer why again???

    January 14, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  6. Sherron

    Only one HUGE PROBLEM with the God thing. The earth and different species have been around more than 65 million years!

    January 14, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Bob

      I suppose that's one of the biggies. There are quite a few others, some related.

      The purported "goodness" of a god that does genocide, orders murder and ra.pe, demands brutal sacrifice, and threatens us with grossly unfair eternal torture if we don't toe his weird line in our short mortal lives is another of several big problems with one of the gods that is popular among stupid folk these days.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Ralph

      Ralph 13:13: The dyslexic saith in his heart, "There is no dog".

      January 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Guest

      And that's a problem how?? The bible doesn't date creation....

      January 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  7. Isaac

    A heartland saint against a yankee sinner.... you should be punched in the throat for writing such garbage.

    January 14, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • JacklynD

      I agree. It is a repulsive premise. After all we know the biggest sinners are often those who make a big production about how religious they are. Most people are quietly spiritual and surround themselves with the wonder of God. We don't invoke his name for every mediocre idiotic human action such as football.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  8. Tallulah13

    Patton Dodd:

    We get it. You have a total crush on Tim Tebow. You sound like my friend's twelve-year-old daughter when she talks about Edward from "Twilight"

    January 14, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  9. God here..Stop praying already..I'm sick of having to keep changing my mind

    Oh wait.

    January 14, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  10. mikey

    Love will hold us together, make us a shelter to weather the storm. And, I'll be my brother's keeper, So the world will know that we're not alone.

    This is the first day of the rest of your life.

    January 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  11. An inconvenient truth

    Prayer has changed the course of human history from the dawn of time. You ask proof on a story of a man who has been made famous by his dedication to prayer? How bad off can you be?

    January 14, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Mirosal

      is your god omniscient .. yes or no? one word answer, should be easy even for YOU to type out.

      January 14, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      You answer the questions i put to you and i might consider giving you an answer

      January 14, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Mirosal: An inconvenient lie can't answer you because they have no evidence to back them.

      @Inconvenient: Why is it that your god doesn't save children when they are ill and they are being denied medical attention due to people like you using prayer as an excuse?

      January 14, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • The Skipper

      This country looks up to Tim Tebow in its darkest hour because we are all clamoring for a hero. It is proven time and time again that people tend to get right with God when the economy and national psyche is on the decline. Church attendance has been increasing steadily over the past three years. IMO, Tim Tebow is just what we need....the song "John 3:16" by Cindy Tucker is like a modern version of Amazing Grace. Tim Tebow is reminding us who we can turn to in our time and need....and we all like him for it....like Tim says, check out John 3:16, it will save your life.

      January 14, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Ferd the Turd

      Let's get this straight. So "god almighty", the creator of 600 se'xtillion stars, CHANGES it's mind about the course of it's intended action, an action which it KNEW in advance it was going to proceed with regardless, based on what one of it's creatures says to itself in it's brain cells. If it CHANGED it's mind, based on a "prayer", (an action of it's creature), then it cannot be omniscient, because without the prayer, it would have done something else, (in your world). Sorry. 1st Grade logic says...hahahahahaha.

      January 14, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Ironicus

      The "dawn of time" was long before anyone even existed, so your claim of anyone praying at that time would be a LIE.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Tallulah13

      Humanity has worshipped thousands of gods throughout history. There are men (and women) who never knew your god who will still be famous long after Tebow is forgotten by all but the most diehard Bronco fan. People who change history are remembered. Prayer has nothing to do with it.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Isaac

      closing your eyes, talking to yourself, and pretending invisible super beings are listening to you has never once changed anything

      January 14, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • taffd

      @mirosal-your arrogance makes you look like a turd-if you don't believe in God, it's only because you can't stand the idea of an intelligence greater than you

      January 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Certainly no one lives in fear of being intellectually inferior to you, honey.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Tebow is famous because of prayer, Incontinent lies? If that were so, you'd be famous, wouldn't you, you moron?

      January 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    January 14, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Mirosal

      prove it

      January 14, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Prayer allows people to talk to God
      Prayer allows God to talk to people
      All knowledge and wisdom
      Comes to mankind from God
      Prayer changes things

      January 14, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Atheism is not....: You're an idiot!!! Parents pray over the ill children and nothing happens...so I guess your god hates children?

      January 14, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Mirosal

      I only ask ONE question of both of those genetics lab rejects (Atheism is not... and Inconvenient) .. all I want is a one-word answer. Guess the concept of that is too much for them to grasp. Typical self-absorbed close-minded bigoted X-tards.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Do not blame God for men misinterpreting His instructions. God gave medicine and science to mankind, to be used for the improvement of all.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, bushwa, you deluded nut.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Tallulah13

      @truth prevails

      Google "Followers of Christ" church. They are the faith healing group who have a graveyard full of children that shows the value of prayer. The original poster is a mindless drone who lies even when the proof of the fallacy of their claim is provided. Some of the christians on this blog are the worst liars I have ever encountered.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Isaac

      yes, it changes what could be an intelligent, rational, capable person into a child who talks to their self and pretends invisible super beings created by primitive farmers are listening to them

      January 14, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • reader

      religion has resulted in more bloodshed than atheism

      January 14, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • taffd

      @mirosal–once agin, it sounds like you'd like to discuss things like an adult, but just resort to childish name calling-which is fun,'cause you're still a turd, but not constructive. It boils down to one truth; people believe what they believe, including you, but no one can know absolute truth. So please quit trying to come off as some intellectual dynamo because there are realities beyond your sphere of knowledge

      January 14, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Jiminy Cricket

      When you wish upon a star
      Your dreams come true

      If your heart is in your dreams
      No request is too extreme

      January 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      You said, "Prayer allows God to talk to people"

      According to the National Institutes of Health, the symptoms of schizophrenia include Hallucinations.
      "Hallucinations are things a person sees, hears, smells, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, or feel. "Voices" are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Many people with the disorder hear voices. The voices may talk to the person about his or her behavior, order the person to do things, or warn the person of danger." See: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/what-are-the-symptoms-of-schizophrenia.shtml

      Prayer, when "answered" is indistinguishable from one of the key symptoms of schizophrenia. From these comments is appears that quite a few of the other symptoms are prevalent among believers.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  13. Bob

    Patton Dodd is an idiot who should not be writing for CNN.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  14. Charles Hubbard

    TEBOW ENDORSES A COMPANY NAMED IN HONOR OF THE PAGAN GODDESS NIKE!!!

    GOD HATES THAT!

    If you were there watching Christ suffer on the cross... and someone from Greece dropped by and told you about the goddess that he worshipped for victory... and offered you a shirt to wear with that name... NIKE. Would you wear it knowing what Christ just did for you?

    January 14, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  15. Mary had a little nail that she stabbed jesus in the throat with and her hands were red with blood.

    Worthless religious garbage plays worthless game. Worthless religious garbage gets overpaid for playing worthless game. Worthless religious garbage uses game as means of spreading religious garbage. Hoping worthless religious garbage falls into wood chipper.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Biden Powel

      You are an idiot, soon you'll find yourself stabbed in the throat with your own hands.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Ironicus

      Is that you George? Can't your "god" defend himself despite being "all-powerful"? He needs to use YOU?
      And how does he do this? By making you say horrible disgusting things? Sounds like your "god" alright. Good call.

      January 14, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • JC

      I feel sorry for you.

      January 14, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • cigarlover6

      good question Mary had.... if your god is all poweful, how and why did he allow his son to die.... tch tch.. fools following a made up story

      January 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  16. Chad

    "momma’s boy."

    seriously?

    you ever play football yourself? No?

    Have any idea how many NFL quarterbacks have rushed for 660 yards and 6 TD's in a season?

    January 14, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Mary had a little nail that she stabbed jesus in the throat with and her hands were red with blood.

      Thankfully tebow will sustain brain damage, like every other moron that plays this useless game.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Ironicus

      I think it's clear he has already sustained brain damage. Those helmets aren't all that great for stopping internal shock damage.

      January 14, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Bob

      Football with its excessive pads and prancing around is for wimps anyway. Rugby is for the brave and the strong.

      Oggy Oggy Oggy!
      Oi Oi Oi!

      January 14, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Betcha Chad spent a LOT of time on the bench in HS.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Chad

      I had everything except speed, size and a throwing arm!!!

      I was terrible.
      but,
      That doesnt mean I cant recognize one very tough guy.

      January 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  17. K1ng

    Wow,bias much ? please..

    January 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  18. The Central Scrutinizer

    Don't pray. CS 1.1

    January 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Lead us into the promised land, CS! Show us the way!

      January 14, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  19. Matthew

    “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Matthew 6.1

    January 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Reality

      Matt 6: 1? Not said by the historic Jesus but simply another invention of Matthew to embellish the life of said Jesus.

      e.g. see http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=397_Piety_before_Men(delete the hyphen if you access the site) and Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 145.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  20. Matthew

    "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get." Matthew 6.5

    January 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Reality

      Matt 6: 5? Not said by the historic Jesus but simply another invention of Matthew to embellish the life of said Jesus.

      e.g. see http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=373_On_Prayer (delete the hyphen if you access the site) and Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 145.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Matthew

      Catch a clue, oh great god of cut-and-paste! No Christian would have bashed Lord Tebow for his disobedience to Jesus' teachings as he pretends to spead Jesus' teachings.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:04 am |
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About this blog

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.