home
RSS
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. Imagine

    Could it be that Tebow will declare himself as an on-field evangelist, thereby claiming tax-exempt status for his millions of dollars under the IRS 501(c)(3) rules? Just wondering.

    January 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  2. nwatcher

    ...I thought it was a good joke. I might use it ...

    January 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  3. BroncoFisch

    Go Broncos!!! owwwwww!!!

    January 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  4. FREE BRAINCANCER(ELECTRODES) FORYOUANDYOURFAMILY

    MILLIONS TO BE ASSASSINATED FOR THE SAKE OF $$$ LIABILITIES(mk-ultra, chip implants, electroshocks etc. performed on them) AND NEW WORLD ORDER(multiculturalism = terrorism) POLITICAL AGENDA KNOWN AS "YOU ARE NEXT"(financial liabilities are 2 expensive for the government and it is cheaper to get read of you instead) !!! IF YOU WERE TREATED WITH ELECTROSHOCKS OR DRUGS USED FOR WIPING OUT MEMORY(numerous Americans and Europeans were and are) AFTER ENDURING FORCED CHIP IMPLANTS(exactly how BRAIN CANCER and homeless people are produced), YOU ARE SCHEDULED NEXT !!!

    NOW YOU KNOW WHAT ORWELLIAN UNITED STATES CONGRESS(USSR#2 which consists of lawyers or what are liars and physicians...lawyers, so crime per physicians can get away with it) AND OTHER GOVERNMENTS WORLDWIDE ARE SOOO BUSY WITH WHEN PLAYING/CLOWNING(acting) IN FRONT OF CAMERAS ONLY HOW SOMETHING HAVE TO BE DONE(deliberately omitting/delaying facts of genocide as seen on this complain) ROMNEY'S FATHER ALIKE WHO EXCELLED AFTER GM WAS DELIBERATELY SCREWED/BANKRUPT(LIKE AMERICA TODAY = success based on deliberate sabotage = known as grand treason) !!!
    http://myshortbiography.blogspot.com/

    LEARN TRUTH ABOUT UNITED NATIONS, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AS WELL AS NEW WORLD ORDER(MULTICULTURALISM = TERRORISM) GOVERNMENTS(Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) !!! NOT THERE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, BUT TO DENY YOUR RIGHT TO EXISTENCE !!!

    ABDUCTIONS / FORCED BRAIN CHIP IMPLANTS / BLACKLISTING / FORCEFUL UNEMPLOYMENT / MK-ULTRA BRAINWASHING AGAINST WHITE(under "NAZI" lie) CIVILIAN POPULATION TODAY IN 2011/2012 ACROSS THE EUROPE AND NORTHERN AMERICA !!!

    http://myshortbiography.blogspot.com/

    WHY TO ACCEPT LIABILITIES FOR CRIMES COMMITTED WHEN WE CAN SIMPLY ASSASSINATE OUR VICTIMS(YOU) THANKS TO HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS AND FREE PRESS/MEDIA(most severe censorship of genocide ever !!!)!! Related to WHITES NO LONGER WELCOME IN AMERICA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xGfYOAydjw&w=640&h=360]
    OR
    http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009 !!! EXILING WHITES(US citizens) WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE AND IMPORTING NON WHITES IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FREE !!!

    January 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Rubicon

      "themselfs"?

      January 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Free Brain cancer?

      Naw, no, Buddy, I wasn't born yesterday.

      What's the catch?

      January 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Imagine

      @FREE BRAINCANCER(ELECTRODES) FORYOUANDYOURFAMILY – Alex Jones, is that you?

      January 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • John D

      RANDOM CAPITALIZATION (!!!) and weird punctuation EQUALS hard to read WALL OF TEXT

      January 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. dilberth

    How can we be sure that he is not actually praising Satan? Or Thor, or Mythra?

    January 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  6. Sarah

    I don;t know why people are so hateful. The guy works hard and has a solid religious foundation. He's making more money for the national football league than they have in many years post regular season. If he inspires someone let it be. Instead of hating him maybe you can learn something from him. Would you spend the morning of the biggest day of your career visiting with someone who suffered a brain injury? that's what he is doing today – we can all learn something from this guy.

    January 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  7. Rubicon

    Timothy Ladwig, Rachel – Yeah, right, 'cause those are the only other possibilities. Sheesh, you people embarrass yourselves by making dumb stuff up.

    January 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Rubicon

      Sorry, this was supposed to be a response to the silly comments made to Jackie's post.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  8. falcon

    If Tebow was a follower of Islam I can just imagine the uproar!

    January 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Rubicon

      True that!

      January 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Imagine

      I would like to issue a personal challenge to any Muslim NFL player involved in the playoffs this weekend. When you make a significant play (preferably a touchdown), roll out your prayer mat and bow in the direction of Mecca. Now that would be a popcorn-worthy event, zealot christians would go berserk!

      January 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  9. SCAtheist

    Most of the Tebow haters just know he's overrated. The receiver (can't even remember the poor guy's name) made the big play last week, not tebow. He got wide open, had a great stiff-arm and bolted 50 yards into the endzone with blazing speed.

    Then after the game Tebow got all the credit because he hit a wide open receiver for 30 yards.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Rachel

      And I'm sure that just grinds your grits doesn't it that Tim got the credit? LOL Denver isn't that great of a team but you atheists are just going to have to learn to deal with it. Turn the channel if you don't want to hear about it.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Rubicon

      I'm not an atheist. Your assumptions show a lack of ability to make a cohesive argument.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Ian

      Don't worry yourself, Rachel. When the news inevitably comes out that Tebow has fathered four dogs from multiple bitches while snorting coke with Newt Gingrich, you'll be able to find some other athlete to get wet over.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • cardsfan

      exactly...tewbow wasn't the hero...it was the guy who caught the ball and made the play

      January 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Imagine

      @Rachel – I'm an apatheist, thank you very much.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  10. Paul

    Actually I think most boys want to be Batman.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  11. dean

    I hope Tebow has a good game against the Patriots tonight!!
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMK9FKMG3Nc&w=640&h=360]

    January 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Imagine

      Bayless is a jerk!

      January 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  12. ab77

    "legendary season"?

    You don't watch much football, do you...

    You want a legendary rookie season? Check out (oh yeah, I'm about to go there) Ben Roethlisberger's numbers:

    13-0 as a starter and his team went to the AFC championship.

    I have no problem with Tebow. He's a football player who's also religious, and that's completely okay. I have a problem with people riding his jock because of it and telling the rest of us that he's already on John Elway/s level. Broncos fans, above all else, should know better. If you want to look up to him for his character, go for it. But please, don't tell me his character alone makes him a legendary quarterback...that's absurd.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  13. thoubelieve

    I had a meeting with God and I was the football player is going to hell

    January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  14. jc

    Yep, God gives Tebow touchdowns but ignores things like war, poverty, and starvation.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Rubicon

    One of my best friends is a Presbyterian minister. You'd never know it when meeting him, unless the topic came up. His lives his life as a Christian; he doesn't have a need to hit people over the head with it. Self-righteousness is not Christianity.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Rachel

      Just because someone is zealous in their belief for God doesn't make them self righteous. I see rappers walking around with their baggy pants, jumping up and down like a clown professing their love for the music and yet, I don't see anyone calling them self righteous. Perhaps YOU should stop typing with one hand.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Rubicon

      Rappers? Your comment makes no sense. But keep spinning – it is funny to watch!

      January 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Rachel

      Rubicon...your mother called, she's looking for her Jergens hand lotion.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Ian

      Rachel has the lotion. She was dry and needing it.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Shhhhhh!

      The dirty little secret over in trailer lot 16-B is...

      (Don't tell, now)

      Rachel is Rubicon's mother.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  16. Jackie

    For over 65 years I've seen football players stop to give a silent thanks to God and not one was ever made onto a display like Tim Tebow. Tim started out with just he and God. He was drafted to the pros and now he's making money off a prayer. Giving interviews for display and promotion isn't what Jesus taught. Religious nuts have taken over as we see with the religious prayer Psalm 109 Law Makers and Americans are praying to happen to the President and his Family. Tim Tebow was draw in like Judas for the money and it's sad to see adults tell kids to be like Tim Tebow. When Tebow falls as man isn't perfect, will the kids follow? Tim was taught the same religion we saw President Bush was taught. Bush said God told him to be President and the faithful followed. 8 years later two Wars and a Recession America learned it wasn't God talking to Bush. Tebow is allowing kids to think God decides a football game and it's sad to see adults support this conduct. God loves every human He created and it's Satan who is running American religious groups. Tim will make that 40 pieces of silver and like all of us Tim will ask God for forgiveness for his sins.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Rachel

      Oh please. Tim Tebow is merely talking about his religion and there's nothing wrong with that. You need to get over it because Tim isn't going anywhere anytime soon and if you don't want to see him talk about God, then turn the channel.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Timothy Ladwig

      So you would rather him act like an ochocinco thug?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Rachel

      Jackie would rather Tim father multiple children from multiple women or even better, shoot himself in the leg with his own gun or start a dog fighting ring.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Ryan

      Wow you're confused. I guess you'll be rooting for the guy having kids out of wedlock. Just fyi he makes a rather low salary for the NFL and most of it goes to his charity. That's ok he'll burn because he spreads the word of his religion right? By your theory we should just get rid of churches all together and just issue bibles at birth.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Ian

      Don't worry, Rachel. When the news inevitably comes out that Tebow has fathered four dogs from multiple bitches while snorting coke with Newt Gingrich, you'll be able to find some other athlete to get wet over.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  17. Rachel

    I'll take Tim Tebow any day over athletes who shoot themselves in the leg with their own gun, who run dog fighting rings, who get high all the time and who father children out of wedlock with numerous women.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Paul

      You would 'take him'?

      As your QB? I would prefer Brady even though he has a child out of wedlock. He is the better QB (whether you like him as a person or not) at this stage. I will admit Tebow could be better int he future but that is speculation.

      Biblically? Doesn't that put you at risk of making him an out of wedlock father? You would corrupt the thing you idealize?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Rubicon

      Rachel, is it hard typing with one hand?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Rachel

      Oh brother. I'll TAKE Tim Tebow as in I'll support him, etc. What a loon if you can't figure that out.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  18. Bob Emery

    It is all hype and Mr. Tebow will get rich on endorsements. Let's see how much he gives to charity.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Rachel

      Well if the past is any indication Tim Tebow will give a LOT to charity as well as a LOT of his time. At least he's not spending his money dog fighting, getting high or fathering numerous children from numerous women.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • carruth

      Bob the man spends a significant part of his time with developmentally disabled children...you got some problem with that....what do you do for society?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Credenza

      Hardly hype when he's built an orphanage and visits with sick children?????? Or didn't you read the article? I'm sure he does more – but even if he didn't, I reckon he's done more than most [if not all ] the posters on here altogether.

      Does positive thought and action make you uncomfortable? If so, I wonder why? God bless Tebow – he's a good man.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Timothy Ladwig

      Dude! The guy flies a family of a dying and or sick person into every game! Puts them up in a nice hotel, sends them to Dinner and gets them seats on the 30 yrd line then spends his free time with them. Please read this article. How much do you do?
      http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7455943/believing-tim-tebow

      January 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  19. adam

    Funny how much liberals hate Tim Tebow, simply because he is religious and successful. In your face, peasants.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Rachel

      Couldn't agree with you more. Win or lose today, Tim Tebow is someone who isn't going away any time soon and liberals will just have to get over it and their disdain for God.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Paul

      What's funny is your general assumption about liberals and Tebow, but that's what I would expect from a Conservative. No facts, so make them up.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Peter

      I don't hate him. People like you annoy me though.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • carruth

      Just feel sorry for all the haters...they have to wake up everyday being themselves.....we don't need to add to their pain.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Rubicon

      People who see everything in terms of "liberal" or "conservative" have nothing of value to say. Tunnel vision blinds.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Credenza

      Paul – it's make your mind up time, Sunshine.
      It's ONLY liberals who go on, ad nauseam, about the Republican believers in God – yes? You use the term "you conservatives" so I assume you are a Liberal.
      So tell me please what is your point?????

      Just a thought, but if you had more politicians like Tebow there would be far less dishonesty and inhumanity in America and your wonderful country wouldn't be destroying itself from within from within.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Timothy Ladwig

      You are an idiot. I am a liberal and I love him and god. Grow up and stop with the labels

      January 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Ian

      Actually, adam, it's stupid people like you that we dislike. Really though, we mostly just despise you.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • JustSomeGuy

      Hmmm ... I'm a conservative, don't believe in God and find the Tebow story interesting. Don't hate him, don't love him ... seems like a genuinely good person. Not sure about how his career will end up but if the kids out there are going to be a fan of a football player, it is someone who makes valuable contributions off the field as well as on.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Imagine

      @adam – Peasants? People that do not believe as you, or do not believe at all, are peasants? Thank you for proving just how hateful christians are!

      January 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  20. Daniel Rodriguez

    I love the fact that Tebow, a Jesus loving person, has become a celebrity. Thanks to the idiots who do not like religion and who, for one way or another, do not respect other people's beliefs. THey are the ones who, by criticizing Tebow and his religion, made him famous. If you, atheist, agnostics, leftist, etc. et.,c had left him alone, he would not have became the celebrity he is now.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Your comment was an attack & not a response & is very disrespectful to Atheists beliefs .. good job being a follower of the love of Jesus!

      January 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Paul

      So you are stating that there are no conservative atheists? None?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Paul

      ey horse, how come I don't see atheists being as mean spirited as you so called Christians. Shouldn't you be out protesting a soldiers funeral or something?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Paul ... didn't get my post did ya? It was sarcasm pointing out the hypocrisy within their own statement.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Doug Davis

      It is only Democrats, non leftist atheists do not wish to outlaw Christianity and take away our freedom of religion, it is the Democrats who want to make praying to a Christian god a crime and throw people in prison for wearing a cross.

      January 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Advertisement
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.