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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. The Dude

    I don't know who is a bigger Yambag, Patton Dodd or Tim Tebow. Patton looks like a Mo who likes Timmy. Wink Wink

    January 15, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  2. SecularTruther

    Tom Brady is a way better player then Tim Tebow and doesn't have to show complete arrogance by shoving a religion down peoples' throats all over the media and actually have the audacity to write a biography when he is only 23 and barely has an understanding of how the world really works. I guess if the christian god exists he's even a bigger Patriot fan since they murdered the Broncos by 45 to 10. Tebow only gets publicity just because he arrogantly displays his faith in Dionysus opps I meant Jesus, same story though. I'm willing to bet Tebow will do something outrageous outside of the field soon that will make us nonbelievers laugh and others cringe since the most devout followers of any religion are always the biggest hyocrites.

    January 15, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • The Dude

      WELL SAID!!!

      January 15, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  3. Sal

    No, plenty of non-believers actually do despise him because of his obnoxious in-your-face religious BS. He shouldn't even talk at all. Treat these barbaric NFL players like race horses and just give them their steroids and hay and leave them silent.

    January 15, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  4. Atheist #1

    Chaos Theory,Maybe! http://billparks.newsvine.com/_news/2012/01/15/10157883-chaos-theory-might-explain-growing-polarization-among-citizens-and-deteriorating-economic-conditions

    January 15, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  5. Satan

    Looks like God rested on the 6th day this week

    January 15, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • nooneknows

      Why hath god so forsaken him? Too funny!

      January 15, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  6. Satan

    Hey Christians........HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    January 15, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  7. myklds

    Tebow's talents and abilities came from God. He recognized it, can't we just let him be?

    January 15, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • JohnR

      I condemn the irrationality that Tebow and his fans indulge in. I condemn Tebow's arrogance and hypocrisy.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Satan

      that statement is why i laugh at you. You ridiculous Christian weirdo.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • rjhons

      @JohnR

      When it come to arrogance and hypocrisy, surely the whole world unanimously condem you.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • tallulah13

      @rjhons

      By claiming that the world agrees with you, you have shown the depth of your own arrogance. You speak only for yourself. Stop claiming authority you don't have.

      January 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • JohnR

      You speak for the whole world, rjhons? What were you saying about arrogance?

      January 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Johnny Boy ! (JohnR)..Hey my friend.. Long time no see. How ya been ?
      Did you hear Laurence Krauss on Science Friday, 1/13 on NPR? First hour, good show, easy to find. Found a great video by him. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo). Great explanation of "something from nothing", and why the sum of total energy of the universe is "zero", (thus making the argument moot). He has a great new book, "A Universe from Nothing". Just started it. Gotta run. See ya 'round soon I hope. 😈

      January 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  8. Reality

    Timmy T bows to Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, and the world rejoices yet again.

    January 15, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  9. moods12

    Tebow is just a rookie quarterback. He has his wins and losses. For a rookie quarterback, he got his team into the play-offs and has pulled in some amazing wins and set records. You can choose to either involve or leave God in the picture – it is irrelevant. Just like everyone dances after a score, Tebow has his own form of celebrating.

    Tebow is a talent that needs to be honed and will be honed. Tebow will not be a Roethelisberger (all his troubles) and that is a good thing.

    And at the end of the day, Tebow is a much success story than most of the people. And, I don't particularly believe in God. The only thing God has to do with Tebow is help in giving him confidence. It is all in Tebow's head – imaginary or not, it really does not matter.

    January 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • JohnR

      Tebow just completed his second year. He may or may not improve. He may or may not win a lot more games. He may or may not prove to be a decent person in his private life. None of this in the bag at all, let alone in the bag because he displays the sort of grandstanding religiosity that Jesus himself denounced.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • JohnR

      Don't forget that Steve Garvey and OJ Simpson once had squeaky clean reputations. Let's not deem this guy a saint just yet, eh?

      January 15, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  10. Jesus Loses! Jesus Loses!

    This just in: Reality 45 Delusions 10!

    January 15, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  11. godmirosal

    Believe it or not, the 2-s version was meant in purpose. The first 3 letters of the word would have been in all-caps but that would make it so obvious.

    With regards to the "THE midst" VS. "A midst" issue. Harvard teaches that the former can be used when you're in the middle of a situation while the latter is used when you're in a middle of a thing or place. Except "nowhere" coz there's no place as such.

    Spot the difference, Einstein?

    January 15, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer acknowledges God in our accomplishments
    Prayer guarantees Gods success not ours
    Prayer is communication with God
    Through prayer we understand more of God
    Prayer really changes things

    January 15, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • JohnR

      Prayer can only change YOU. Hopefully for the better, but that is not guaranteed.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Rev. Parson

      Prayer has changed millions of sinners into saints over the centuries. Prayer restores the lost to God, that is guaranteed and is overwhelming in the scope it displays.Sorry you have missed it JohnR.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • JohnR

      Rev Parson, learn something before you speak. And according to christian doctrine (the goofiest among all religions in so many ways), you become a "saint" when you accept Jesus and your sins are washed away. You don't stop being a sinner. That much Christianity gets right. Indeed, many of the most religious people I've known have been amongst the most selfish and arrogant and uncaring for others around. Prayer CAN make you a better person and some people do become better people through religion. But for many, the opposite is the case. I suspect you are one of the latter, with your tone of haughty certainty and refusal to take a cold hard look at reality.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • TR6

      “Prayer changes things”
      And it doesn’t matter what you pray to. Pray to god, pray to Zeus, pray to your milk carton the results are exactly the same

      January 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  13. godmirosal

    believe it or not, the 2 ss (assylum) was intentional. It would have been capitalised (ASSylum) but would make it so obvious.

    And speaking about "THE midst" vs. A midst issue. As what I learned as part of my mastery in Harvard, (lol) you can use the the former when you caught up in a situation, ie: Mirosal was caught in the midst of a fistfight or disaster. While the latter will be used when you are in something or a place. "I'm in a midst of a galaxy" could be the best example.

    Now tell me, where did you go to school, Einstein?

    January 15, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Mirosal

      U.S. Navy for 21 years, retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8) and joined Mensa at 18. And, anyone who's been to 'Harvard' knows it is pronouced HAH-vahd.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Mirosal

      Also, "midst" is the British English way of saying "in THE middle of". Would you ever say "in A middle of"? I thought not.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • JohnR

      @godmirosal Nice try, Better luck next time.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • godmirosal

      @JohnR

      I (unintentionally) did, scroll-up. LOL!

      January 15, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • There is no atheist in a foxhole

      If you are in the military, ya shud kno mah name!

      January 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @there are no atheists in foxholes. Not to bright are you? Militaryatheists.org

      January 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Satan's behalf

      maybe you mean....militant.atheists.org.y

      January 16, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  14. christiansagainstnike

    GOD WANTS TO TEACH TIM TEBOW A LESSON FROM BOTH PLAYOFF GAMES

    Playoff Game 1: 316 passing on 10 Completions
    John 3:16 (The verse relates to Jesus Christ... He was strengthening Tebow)
    10 Completions: 10 Commandments
    That game showed the benefits of serving Christ and upholding the 10 Commandments

    Playoff Game 2: 136 Passing on 9 Completions
    John 1:36... When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God."
    Jesus did not stop to help Tim Tebow against the Patriots.
    9 Completions: 9 Commandments out of 10 Commandments
    The 1 Commandment that Tebow missed was Commandment 1...
    "You shall have no other gods before Me. – Exodus 20:3
    Tim Tebow honors NIKE... the pagan goddess of victory.
    God hates it and wants Tim Tebow to stop!
    You can't serve God and honor the pagan goddess NIKE expecting to be blessed!

    I asked God if I could post all of that and God led me to go to His Word, open it up without looking... and place my pen down without looking. My pen was touching 3 words... 2 words on the line above... 1 word on the line below... the 3 words are "God that teaches".

    January 15, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • JohnR

      I suspect Tebow was already aware of those verses.

      Let the delusional rationalization games begin, eh?

      January 15, 2012 at 6:48 am |
  15. dudley0415

    Tebow's a nice, humble guy – like the characters out of a Louis L'amor novel.

    January 15, 2012 at 3:47 am |
    • Mirosal

      where are his spurs, horse, and six-shooter?

      January 15, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • HellBent

      As a general rule, humble people generally don't publish autobiographies when they're 23. I think he's a nice guy and all, but I think the humble thing is a lot of smoke and mirrors. He's VERY media savvy.

      January 15, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • Mirosal

      Just wait until he finds that super-model to get engaged to, they break up, and he'll eventually marry another one.

      January 15, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • Hadesknees

      "As a general rule, humble people generally don't publish autobiographies when they're 23."

      Says who, you?! And when it became a "general rule"?

      January 15, 2012 at 4:58 am |
    • JohnR

      @Hadesknees How many autobiographies of 23 year olds can you dig up? How many by 65+ year olds? Notice any pattern?

      There is nothing humble about Tim Tebow. He absolutely oozes egotism. I don't mind the egotism as much as I mind the hypocrisy of his "aw, shucks" act. And I'm genuinely disappointed, but not surprised, that so many people fall for it.

      January 15, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • JohnR

      Oh, and how many people do those nice, humble guys in Louis L'Amour novels end up killing?

      January 15, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Hadesknees

      @ JohnR (mirosal? hellbent?)

      If Tebow is an egotist when he gives credit and glory for all his achievements NOT to himself but to God, I wonder what do we call to atheists who give credit and glorify noone but themselves.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • JohnR

      (1) I'm not mirosal or hellbent.

      (2) Tim Tebow is giving credit to a god he claims a personal relationship for things his teams have accomplished. Yes, he is an egotist. That Christians don't see this is just one more example of their moral myopia.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      I'll jump in here. Funny how that works eh? Praise God for all your achievements and if things go terribly south you can fall back on blaming the devil. The problem here is that folks like Tebow can't seem to take personal responsibility for anything. They have a scapegoat fro every contingency.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • captain america

      For the record steve is a butt in canadian whose opinion rises to below the level of dog crap. If you fellow Americans want some canadian pervert to do your thinking for you read his crap, if you want to retain your freedoms tell the SOB to go pound salt. There's your sign

      January 15, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Mirosal

      I am not John R .. or hellbent. If Tebow were really a team player, he wouldn't hog the spotlight. He'd have his TEAM with him, and give them the credit for the TD's and field goal scored, the offensive line pushing forward, the defense for holding the opponent back. THAT would be a team player. Tebow KNOWS the cameras are on him, so he showboats.
      Mornin' Sir Steve!! (I decided to trump the Queen and give you a KBE before she got around to it lol)

      January 15, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Top o' the mornin' Mirosal. Truth and I have to head out to work shortly. Just time to get a few quick quips in. Still laughing at that Jimmy Fallon Tebowie tune. Also curious to see what the cast of AtheistExperience will say about the football game.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Mirosal

      the day manager is here already, I'll give him the run-down in the shop then I'll be out of here top of the hour, then home.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Hadesknees

      @AtheistSteve

      WATCH OUT!!!

      Can you name one article on this blog that says "A believer blames the devil of his misfortunes or any disaster?

      Next time be careful where you jumped into. You'll never know a huge mouth of a lion is waiting to catch you.

      @JonhR

      You know, you sound so presumtuous but I bet you don't hear it. Apparently you, steve and your fellow atheists don't. If myopia is for sight I wonder what we call for hearing.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • MAJORITY always WINS

      @Captain America

      Still, majority of Canadians is Christian. Thus, it's a Christian Nation.

      AtheiSteve and his cohorts belong to the SECOND CLASS MINORITY still. They could NEVER WIN!

      January 15, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • JohnR

      @Hadesknees I see you have no contentful response. I'll take that as an implicit acknowledgement that Tebow is an attention hog who is always trying to make it all about himself and his alleged relationship with god. Oh, and I don't know how many Christian athletes ever blamed the devil for their losses. But that Christtan wide receiver on the Buffalo Bills who tweeted anger at god for failing him when it was he alone who failed sure sounded like a dolt, no?

      January 15, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      "The Devil made me do it" isn't a saying I came up with. Or "if not for the grace of God I would have shot my mother in the face" as another example of denying culpability. How many times have we atheists been accused of on the one hand using our free will to choose to ignore the will of God and on the other hand being influenced and deceived by Satan. Which is it? And how can we be held accountable for losing our way when pitted against a malevolent supernatural force. We are after all merely human. Seems like a pretty unfair advantage on Satan's side.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • captain america

      MAJORITYalwaysWINS : That is why i refer to steve and the other butt ins as canadians. If i were talking to an honest citizen I would capitalize, but honest citizens are not trying to infect America with their perversion. There's your sign

      January 15, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • TR6

      @MAJORITY always WINS. If this is so, please explain Rho VS Wade and why there is no mention of god, jesus, the bible or christiaity in the const-itution of the United States?

      January 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Jesus Christ

    Oh crap. There was a game tonight?

    January 15, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      Oh, did you have better things to to last night? Like making sure glaxies didn't collide, stars didn't go nova, destroying other planets, black holes didin't get TOO big, and things like that, when you should have been watching a game on a miniscule little planet on the fringe on one of millions of galaxies in the universe? Where are your priorities?? Sheesh!!

      January 15, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • God

      How many times did I need to tell you – the game was Saturday, not Sunday. Honestly, son, if you weren't so worried about me forsaking you all the time maybe you would actually pay attention.

      January 15, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • God

      @Mirosal,
      Don't let him fool you. He was watching Jersey Shore re-runs all day long. I think maybe Snooki reminds him or Mary Magdalene.

      January 15, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • Mirosal

      Hey 'god' ... so why is it your followers hang out with ho'okers or ho'oker wanna-be's? People like Jimmy Swa'ggert, Jim Bakker, that idiot son of yours, and the like?

      January 15, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • God

      Don't ask me – I gave up on you people long ago. There are plenty of other things in this universe of mine to keep me entertained.

      January 15, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • godmirosal

      I'm in an assylum in a straitjacket talking to myself like I'm in a midst of a galaxy wearing spacesuit.

      January 15, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • Mirosal

      "asylum" has only one "s'. And the phrase is "in THE midst", not "in a midst". Mye kath-lik jezoo-it teecherz dun lernd mee purty gud about spelin an grammer.

      January 15, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • Whatever

      Good one, JC. My sentiments exactly.

      January 15, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  17. tallulah13

    What happened with the Broncos has happened before. All sports have their "Cinderella" stories. The only thing that made this different from the '85 Patriots, '69 Mets or the 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team (among many others) is that Tebow hijacked the spotlight off the team to put it on himself, and christians embraced that selfishness. Well, that and the fact that those other teams embraced true team work and won their championships.

    January 15, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • JohnR

      Great post! Yep, Tebow perfectly exemplifies "There may be no 'I' in 'team', but there is a 'me'! And yes,Christians in effect helped Tebow diss his teammates throughout their brief and ultimately profoundly unsuccessful run. And anyone who wants to talk about a real Cinderella story, look at the turn around by one of the teams that actually won yesterday. The SF 49ers went from years of inepti-tude to the 2nd best record in the NFC and they just beat a team that many thought could beat the Packers in the NFC ti-tle game and win the Super Bowl., no matter who the AFC sends. But since there are no religious blowhards on the that team for Christians to glom onto, their season long and still continuing run has been all but ignored. Christians should be ashamed of themselves for what they choose to glorify and why.

      Oh, and while the 85 Patriots had a good run, but they got creamed by the Chicago Bears in the Superbowl.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm embaras.sed. I should have remembered da Bears.

      January 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  18. cigarlover6

    He he, poor Tebow... God didn't make him win. Wow, what a terrible injustice, god you must be pathetic. Why didn't you answer the prayers? Why? The believers are forced to believe that it's god's will ! What a waste.

    January 15, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  19. David

    New England exposed Tebows ability to throw the ball tonight. He is not an NFL quarterback.

    January 15, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Satan

      He stinks

      January 15, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  20. David

    Who kicked who's butt?

    January 15, 2012 at 1:12 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.