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. b4bigbang

    You mean u haven't seen evidence to the contrary, which places it back as your opinion.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Ironicus

      A visual record is not an opinion. You see the sun come up every morning. Is that your opinion?
      You don't see it at night and you can see that it is not in the sky above you at night – so you KNOW it is not there.
      Is that your "opinion"? No, it is a stark observation based on your knowledge of the solar system and what you actually see and don't see.
      Your "god" does not exist and is not "hiding" in your fantasy world no matter how hard you try to say it does.
      If it were real, it would not be "in your head" only...it would be on the outside, too. It isn't. It is all in your head.
      And there is nothing you can do to prove your "god" exists. Why? Because it never existed in the first place.
      Just like Santa Claus. Just someone pulling your leg and thinking it's cute to make you think there's some creature with an infinite number of eyes that really, really, really cares what you do with your junk and it needs money really bad, too.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  2. chasw


    January 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  3. David Somers

    Prayer that is done in private is 1000 times more valid than public displays of ego prayer.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • lisa

      can you site a biblical reference?

      January 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • A Little Help


      January 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • lisa

      whatever – ok cite. Can you please?

      January 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • A Little Help

      Ok, I'm not David, but here goes.

      Matthew 6

      5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  4. Mr Chihuahua

    I dont understand how Tebow can run so well with blue balls lol!

    January 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  5. AvdBerg

    This seems to develop into a story of a football player, who desires attention by kneeling before a false god, and who is being worshipped like and idol, while the country is not only morally and financially bankrupt but more importantly spiritually bankrupt.

    The above article by Patton Dodd, managing editor of Patheos, is misleading in every sense. God has nothing to do with football as His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). This is one of the reasons Christ did not even pray for this world (John 17:9).

    The whole article is silly and his references to as God are a lie and falsehood and void of any spiritual understanding.

    Before you read our posting, it should be understood that he that is spiritual judgeth (discerneth) all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor. 2:15).

    Tim Tebow is not a follower of God and he does not know what he worships as he worships after an image of a false God. He does not understand the Gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 2:14) but rather follows after a false Christ and the spirit of this world in which there is no salvation (Matthew 24:24).

    The words John 3:16 he has painted on his face, he has stolen from the Bible (John 10:1-15) and unable to understand. He was born in sin and in his natural state is separated from God and unless he repents and turns from darkness to light and from the power of Satan (whose spirit he is of) unto God (Acts 26:18), he will remain spiritually blind. God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth (John 9:31). For a better understanding who Tim Tebow worships and what it means to be a sinner, we invite you to read the articles ‘Repent’, ‘What is Sin’ and ‘Victory over Sin’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Tim Tebow’s talents are not God-blessed but are his natural talents that by nature he was born with through the sinful seed of his natural father (1 Peter 1:23). It has nothing to do with God. All the hype involving Tim Tebow is indicative of the state of the country and confirms the words spoken in John 3:19 how mankind prefers darkness (Satan) over light (God), and also confirm the words spoken in Revelation 12:9 how this whole world has been deceived. Tim Tebow represents everything that is wrong with the United States of America and is a sad reflection how sick it is and how the people love to worship their idols and heroes in the sports and entertainment industry, that are unable to provide salvation.

    It is sad but true but Sports and Entertainment is a stronghold of Satan’s divided kingdom (Matthew 10:26-28; 2 Cor. 10:4) and any reference to Jesus Christ is falsehood. Tim Tebow’s prayers are all in vain as he follows after the teachings and the doctrines of men and the principalities and powers of this world (Matthew 15:9; Eph. 6:12). Any sports figure that claims himself/herself be a Christian is a deception as they follow after a false Christ and the god of this world. Their faith does not stand in Jesus Christ but rather they do service unto them which by nature are no gods (Gal. 4:8). As a result of their spiritual blindness they do not know that they are all of the same spirit as they prefer darkness over light (John 3:19).

    We will explain how the spirit of this world (Satan) has transformed himself into an angle of light and has Tim Tebow believe that he is a “so-called” Christian (2 Cor. 11:13-15) and applies to all unbelievers.

    The Bible was written for the believers and they are the only ones that are able to understand it as it is spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

    Like Tim Tebow when you read the Bible:

    – You are not the believer but the unbeliever (Romans 16:17; 2 Cor. 6:14).
    – You are not the light but darkness (John 3:19; Acts 26:18).
    – You are the righteous one but the unrighteous or self-righteous (Romans 10:3).
    – You are not born again but born of the corruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23).
    – You are not the one that has overcome the spirit of this world but are in bondage thereof (1 John 5:4).
    – You are not a child of God but a child of the devil (Acts 13:10).
    – You do not have the mind of Christ but a carnal mind, which is enmity with God (Romans 8:7).
    – You have not overcome the spirit of the world but you are a friend thereof, which is enmity with God (James 4:4).

    All of the above Satan and the spirit of this world has accomplished through the doctrines of religion, his number one stronghold (Matthew 10:26-28; 2 Cor. 10:4).

    Please study all of the scriptural references on our website as it is not us that speak but the Spirit of our Father.

    For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world (1 John 5:4).

    For a better understanding what it means to be a Christian we invite you to read the article ‘Can Christianity or any Other Religion Save You?’ listed on our website.

    Also, to give people a better understanding of the destructive forces (Eph. 6:12) behind the media, US Politics and the issues that divide this world, we invite you to read the article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’.

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12). The truth is that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). This is why we call all of mankind to repentance.

    Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).


    January 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • ethandy

      Do you have anything original to say?

      January 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • AvdBerg


      It is not original but accordIng to the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot received (John 14:17).

      Seek, and ye will find (Matthew 7:7).


      January 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Skyler

      I feel sorry for you, AvdBerg. Honestly. I've been where you are. You are shackled to your belief, whether you like it or not. It's not like you can open your mind to science and accept that new knowledge has answered where we come from and why we're here. You can't do that because you would have to admit to your group that you were wrong. Not something you're likely to do after all the reputational equity you have invested?

      It's ok to let the god thing go. Trust me. People who wrote all that stuff didn't know any better. It's not their fault. Be good for GOODNESS sake.

      (I know... I'm the devil speaking.... blah...blahh.... blahh...)

      January 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • AvdBerg


      Please read the article 'Creation' on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca and that will answer all your questions.

      Seek, and ye will find (Matthew 7:7).


      January 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  6. Mercyme


    January 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  7. bobcat2u

    To be christian is a great thing, if that's what's for you. But to commercialize christianity through Tebow is just wrong. That's what's wrong with religion today. Everyone wears it like a badge of honor. Your beliefs are not the beliefs of all and it very rude to put on display as you do.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Strangely, they are free to act as stupid as they like as long as it doesn't break any laws.
      It's at times like this that I think we should have a law against people acting stupid but it is not really a choice for most of them.
      Being stupid is a mental disability - not necessarily their fault if they've been drinking tap water or however they originally got that way.

      We can only pity them in their weakness and hope that someday humanity will be free of mental disabilities or illnesses.
      That will be the start of a new age of the sort that has never been seen before in all of human history.
      Or we'll all die of stupid people – the only REAL weapon of mass destruction!

      January 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  8. ethandy

    Oh, are you f–king kidding me?! Tebow is a mediocre NFL player at best. He totally sucks. He just runs all over the field waiting for some kind of divine intervention. The fact that he even is being mentioned in the same sentence as Brady is because of all of this god and prayer sh-t. Which would be ok maybe if a god existed. But it doesn't. And no intensity of thought while putting one knee down on the sideline will ever change that. On the other hand, the conversation does raise Brady to the level of a diety. Patriots: 38 – 14.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @ethandy: You left out one qualifier in your remarks: in your OPINION there is no God.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • ethandy

      Nope. I'm sure. No evidence to the contrary.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  9. bostontola

    I doubt many players' prayers are asking God to slant play to their team, they are more likely asking God to give them courage to play their best. Fans think God is helping one team over another, I doubt players think that. If God intervenes, then the accomplishment doesn't belong to the players. That is not the mindset of a champion.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  10. Bill O'Reilly

    If I had son and he looked up to an athlete as a role model, I'd disown my son.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  11. Kathy

    Tom Brady evil? Really. God doesn't root for teams. We have God given talents. It's up to us what we do with the talent.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      kathy..it appears god only gave many African kids the talent to starve to death..but its good to know your god at least cares about some better than others otherwise sports would be so boring to watch.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  12. A MOM

    southside nike – brilliant point. This mom doesn't want her son growing up like Tim Tebow. There are lots of other great athletes who do wonderful things for others but don't feel the need to wear their piety on their jersey sleeve. I find that display of Christianity part and parcel of what's wrong with Christianity today. It's all about me, me, me – look what I am – I am a Christian, and God is on my side (and implicitly, NOT yours). And to couch it all in a SPORT?? I like football. And I am a Christian. But to think that Tim Tebow's prayers are any stronger than any other player's is beyond delusional! And to me, completely blasphemous.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  13. bostontola

    I bet there are a lot of defensive players on Tebow's opponents that love God, why would God slant play against them?

    January 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      That is not dissimilar from my argument. Why would any god favor one player or team over another? Ridiculous!

      January 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • A MOM

      Exactly. Makes no sense whatsoever.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  14. Lee

    I certainly wouldn't my child to grow up like Tim Tebow!

    January 14, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  15. chuck

    Classic battle good vs evil. Brady and the Evil Pats a little too strong this time around.

    January 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer brings the joy of God to life
    Prayer invigorates the soul
    Prayer sharpens the mind
    Prayer brings inspiration
    Prayer changes things

    January 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      "other living things"???

      You again?!

      Oh gee....I sure hope that bacteria that gave me that cold last week believed in god!

      January 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • ethandy

      Sorry, prayer closes the mind.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Ooh, I like that!

      "prayer closes the mind"

      Best comment on the page!

      January 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      i notice three closed minds on this thread alone.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  17. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Why the !@#$ would some "god" care who wins a stupid ball game?! Praying that "god" helps you win is as asinine as wishing on a star. Ooooh...I prayes and I scored a touchdown! It must have been GOD!

    Take responsibility for your own actions because YOUR efforts are the only thing that help you achieve (or fail at) anything in this life. DUH!

    January 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      prayed...not prayes

      January 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  18. AnotherJohn

    Mothers want their children to grow up as delusional...? The Christians borrowed their tale from earlier cultures, every religion is a re-tread of an earlier faith. Theologians know this, they just don't tell what they know is fact. Many people are just to emotionally weak to accept the fact that death isn't a fairytale...it's death.

    January 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Mary

      Being a Christian is the hardest thing I've ever done – it takes an emotionally strong person to be a Christian. I know from experience.

      January 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Sandy

      I'd love to have my son grow up to be like Tim Tebow. Tebow is a caring generous person. I also admire the way he stands up to bullies such as you to continue with his obvious deep religious beliefs.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Mary, it's hard because you have to keep fighting back all those times when the logic circuits in your brain (assuming you have any) tell you that "this doesn't make ANY sense".

      January 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Mary

      Love doesn't make sense, but it is extremely powerful , as is hate. As to be being logic, faith is the foundation of Christianty, and after you take that step of faith -God will provide the logic you are seeking for .... he will answer your questions. Faith is believing that he exists and he rewards those that seek him. You have to take the first step, he has given you free will. You may not be ready to accept this yet, but maybe someday 🙂 The promising thing I see in you is that you have strong feelings about religion. God would rather you hot or cold than lukewarm.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  19. Mary

    Teenage boy want to be like Brady – Teenage boy's mom wants him to be like Tebow – Well we all know Mom knows best:))

    January 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Sean

      but if you have been only a christian, than how do you know its the hardest thing, when you yourself have not tried others?

      January 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Mary

      Hi Sean: Unfortunately, I haven't always been a Christian. My life would have been a much better one. I distanced myself from Christianty and lived life on my own terms. I'm still not perfect, but I'm different. They call me the "good one" at work. I always just wanted to fit in and be accepted, but that was what was keeping me from being a Christian. Now I know I wear a label as a "Christian," but the reward is worth it. There is peace, joy and acceptance from someone who really loves me as I am – I don't have to be perfect. But he is making me more perfect everyday. It comes down to have faith and taking that first step. I guess the one good thing that came out of not being a Christian was that I can tell others that being a Christian isn't easy but you will never, ever regret your decision.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  20. southside nike

    Would everybody be "Tebowing" if he was a Muslim and whipped out a prayer rung after every touchdown?

    January 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Deep North


      January 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
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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.