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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. charlie

    Tebow didn't have a prayer

    January 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  2. BostonBigtime

    It was a football game. Tom Brady and Tim Tebow are football players, decent guys
    but still football players.
    What's wrong with you people?

    January 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  3. John

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5zylpNWxVo&w=640&h=360]

    January 16, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • ...

      TROLL Alert – don't bother watching this garbage, click the report abuse link to get rid of this stupid TROLL!

      January 17, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  4. hippypoet

    the headline of this article is too true its sad...but at least its not as sad as tebow thinking his prayers have anything to do with him winning or losing – whats funny about it all thou is if he thinks his prayers ARE working then no matter if he wins the game or not, he is still a loser!

    good stuff 🙂

    January 16, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • BostonBigtime

      Wow, you truly are a hippy poet! It's no wonder your life is so vacant that
      you need to focus on things like this.
      It's football. Have you ever watched football?

      January 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  5. Kebos

    Tebow is an idiot. God told me last night that Tebow is a dam fool. God follows hockey. Particularly the Ottawa Senators player Foligno.

    January 16, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      if that god is following the SENS, he is doing a crappy job at assisting them

      January 16, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • tallulah13

      I suspect god favors the old-school, Original Six teams. Except maybe the Leafs.

      January 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  6. Reality

    Dear Timmy T,

    Still waiting your response to the following prayer. And since you now have the time:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    January 16, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  7. Answer

    The dumb religious trites are still at it? How very usual.

    January 15, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Response

      And there you go, militant atheist doing the typical limbo of civility. How low can you go?

      January 16, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • BostonBigtime

      Answer is right! The "Dumb religious trites" are almost as ridiculous
      as the pathetic atheists.

      January 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  8. wayne317

    Taking a look at tebow's last 5 games:

    Record
    1-4

    Passing

    49/113= 43%
    891 yards= 178 yards per game
    3 td passes
    4 ints

    Passer rating= 65.17

    That includes his game vs Pittsburgh. He sucks with or with Jesus.

    January 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • wayne317

      *without

      January 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  9. Vegan Kung Pao

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kkRCTaneMU&w=640&h=360]

    January 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • SlopEater

      Zzzzzz...

      January 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes lives
    Prayer enhances life

    January 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Prayer closes the mind.

      Prayer makes you think you did something real instead of imaginary.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      You still haven't explained why you keep using that stupid screen name "Atheist is not healthy". Are you suggesting that atheism IS healthy for adults? THIS I KNOW! And also please explain what "other living things" could possibly give a !@#$ whether a "god" exists.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • θετικός

      Prayer advocate- You are 100% right on!

      January 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The original poster is a mindless drone who keeps repeating the same words in an effort to convince others that they are true. Of course, those of us who live a reality-based existence know that prayer is not terribly effective. Just google "Followers of Christ" church, a faith healing sect who has a graveyard full of children, many of whom would have survived if their parents had loved them enough to take them to a doctor instead of simply praying for them.

      January 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes lives

    January 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Ironicus

      ...for the worse. You forgot that bit at the end.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • θετικός

      Prayer Advocate-Great posts!

      January 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Prayer certainly changed the lives of many of the children of the Followers of Christ church. Because their parents prayed for them instead of taking them to a doctor, they suffered from easily cured health issues, and many of them died. The church has hidden behind the separation of church and state until recently. Now, parents who allow their children to die in this manner are being prosecuted. Now they can pray from prison.

      http://www.religionnewsblog.com/category/followers-of-christ-oregon

      January 15, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  12. Colin

    Reality – 45; Christian sky-fairy – 10.

    January 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Ironicus

      I wonder how many times Reality has posted here. Thousands of times at least if not more. And never has anyone proven a god to exist, so the Christian sky-fairy, which doesn't exist and can therefore not have any positive points but only a negative balance like negative infinity or something. Better fix your scoreboard.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Colin

      Ya missed it Ironicus. I was referring to the score in the Denver-New England game. I was not referring to Reality the poster.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Alex Trebeck

      And todays winner is Colin who managed to work the asinine phrase 'sky fairy' into a post . What do we have for Colin Don Pardo?

      January 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Don Pardo

      Alex lets give Colin the ass hole of the day award, no one anywhere deserves it more.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Ironicus

      LOL Sorry, Colin! I had forgotten all about the game. Ha!

      January 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      How about giving respect to the servicemen of your country idiot's? Unlike you two dolts, Colin is out fighting for your freedom and has more right to say anything than either of you do.

      January 16, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Colin – your in the service?

      January 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  13. S&T

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cWJ7LO4VYk&w=640&h=360]

    January 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Anecdotal story that proves that a christian's reasoning level is that of a 6 year old's.

      January 15, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom

      funny video!

      January 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • SlopEater

      When you figure out how to crack the skull of the universe open so we can see God's brain at work, you let me know.

      January 15, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Of course, the anecdote has nothing to do with evolution despite what the lead-in read. And of course they have to end the story at this point, because the girl's claim is easily refutable, whereas the teacher's is not. But christians would rather leave it at a place where they can insult someone who has a valid point. They have no actual proof to argue with, so the make up silly, insulting stories. You kind of have to feel sorry for them.

      January 16, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  14. Tonia

    This is the most ridiculous story I've seen in a long time on CNN. You say "Haters aside, he’s the most popular athlete in the nation." This is both astoundingly pompous and grossly inaccurate. Maybe you don't see clearly outside of your Christian circles. In my neck of the woods, we all wish Tebow would just stop the theatrics and play the game.

    Oh, and the "cradle Catholic" beat the crap out of the evangelical Baptist, if you're keeping track.

    January 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jim

      If you lack talent you need a schtick. Paris Hilton and the Kardashians perfected it. Tebow is riding their wave.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  15. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    god is NOT a broncos fan! Hahahaha... And do.uchebag Tebow is STILL a do.uchebag!

    January 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  16. Bibletruth

    Reality is as a commenter said: "you become a "saint" when you accept Jesus and your sins are washed away."
    When you receive Jesus, i.e. when you open your heart fully (100%) to receive His foregivness and life, you are receiving His rightousness, or divine love. Thats called justification. Again, justification involves two things, 100% linked as one thing: the foregiveness of sin by the merits of the sacrifice of Christ, and the very life of Christ (his mind which can be summerized as "I delight to do thy will o my God, yeh, thy law is within my heart" ) within by the Holy Spirit.

    January 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • JohnR

      As the commenter who said it, I'd like to add that, yes, that's the Christian doctrine, but it's ludicrous.

      January 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Spiritual One

      I have trouble accepting a doctrine that says that God loves me very much and wants me in Heaven, but only if I accept and love Him first. That sounds like the kind of thing that goes on in middle school – not the ultimate love of a Deity. Look, either God loves us, or not. If it is conditional, then frankly, I don't want it. I refuse to worship a God that puts conditions on His love.

      January 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Actually, I'm pretty good at justification on my own without jesus' help. I can pretty much justify any action in my life. I've yet to encounter a christian who can tell me one way god would make my life better than it already is.

      January 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  17. TheMovieFan

    Brady put Tebow down on both knees.

    January 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  18. Hairbear

    I'm not buying all this mumble jumbo! Would have it the prayer on the knee was after ah lost just like the win. U see he could are they could have said he gives thanks just for God keeping him safe Win are Loose! To much hype around this young man! And I like him and wish him well! Do away with all the movies and predictions let the guy play and have fun, remember he has team mates that help him put some of the hype on them as well!

    January 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  19. Peter

    45-10

    Did Tebow anger God by touching himself or having an impure thought before the game?

    I say that as a critique of those who put Tebow on a divine pedestal not to mock the player. Tebow is a great athlete (and may be a good QB if he ever learns to throw consistently) but should have never been the cornerstone of your faith. It insults Tebow and demeans your faith.

    January 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • No Monkeys No Atheists

      Are you done? Ok, relax..take a deep breath and grab a biology book from the shelf.

      My knowledge in biology is quite limited, so I would appreciate it very much if you could help me on something out of that book.

      Is it mentioned there that micro-organisms are parasitic in nature? In other words, they live, feed and multiply in/on another organism?

      If it's mentioned there, then, Noah didn't need an ark as vessel for those microbes or that shallow dish to culture them, right?

      And oh, is it true that ebola and HIV came from monkeys? Too bad..Noah failed to anticipate that. He should not have included your ancestors in the ark.

      Try to imagine this world with no ebola; no HIV; and most of all no atheists. What a wonderful should this world has been.

      January 16, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • No Monkeys No Atheists

      Sorry Pete, wrong (reply) button.

      January 16, 2012 at 6:30 am |
  20. ReligionIs4Dolts

    If the Judaic creation story is correct, and "god" didn't put "lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night" until the 4th day, then where did the "light" come from on the first day?

    Where did all those extra people come from who were automatically just THERE outside the "Garden of Eden" when the allegedly "only people in the world" were thrown out of the "Garden"?

    Did Noah collect all the microorganisms in existence before the "Great Flood"? Did Noah painstakingly put them all in separate petri dishes, saving all those goodies for all of us future generations to enjoy? HIV, HPV, ebola, etc.? I would mention MRSA but then that only just EVOLVED in the 20th century due to overuse of antibiotics! Oh wait! That's right! They didn't KNOW about microorganisms back then! Did Noah also go around making sure he gathered representatives of all the parasites that we have to deal with now? Ticks, leeches, bedbugs, tapeworms, mosquitoes, etc., etc., etc.? What a gentleman! Thanks Noah!

    January 15, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • No Monkeys No Atheists

      Are you done? Ok, relax..take a deep breath and grab a biology book from the shelf.

      My knowledge in biology is quite limited, so I would appreciate it very much if you could help me on something from that book.

      Is it mentioned there that micro-organisms are parasitic in nature? In other words, they live, feed and multiply in/on another organism?

      If it's mentioned there, then, Noah didn't need an ark as vessel for those microbes or that shallow dish to culture them, right?

      And oh, is it true that ebola and HIV came from monkeys? Too bad..Noah failed to anticipate that. He should not have included your ancestors in the ark.

      Try to imagine this world with no ebola; no HIV; and most of all no atheists. What a wonderful should this world has been.

      January 16, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • TR6

      @No Monkeys No Atheists:” Is it mentioned there that micro-organisms are parasitic in nature? In other words, they live, feed and multiply in/on another organism?”

      Typical uneducated Christian bumpkin. Gets part of one fact right, thinks he’s more clever than any scientist ever born and that he completly understands the universe. Yes, some microorganisms are parasitic and would just come along with their hosts. However some of them are EXTREEMLY infectious and deadly. For example if some of Noah’s creatures had brought Ebola on board, living in close quarters for 40 or 120 days there would have been a lot fewer animals leavening the arc (at least alive) then boarded it.
      Also if you had bothered to attempt even a rudimentary understanding of microorganisms you would know that many of the important ones are involved in photosynthesis and decomposition. Both types would have been destroyed by your flood.
      While we’re talking about photosynthesis please explain how all the plants survived being submerged for either 40 or 120 days, unable to breath and unable to photosynthesize.
      Also pleases explain why in some parts of the bible the flood lasted 40 days and in others it lasted 120.
      You might also explain how all of the animals survived inside a boat with only one small window for ventilation and how 7 people managed to feed, water and cleanup after thousands of animals each day.
      I don’t know why Christians are so slow and stupid as to think people evolved from monkeys; but, I suspect the monkeys are very glad and relieved to hear Christians say they are not kin

      January 16, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      No Monkeys: So you would defend the story of Noah on the extremely minuscule probability that Noah just happened to gather all the right combinations of infected animals so as to include all of the microorganisms that people in his time had absolutely NO KNOWLEDGE of? HA HA! I'm beating a dead horse here, but you should also think about viruses, which are not even technically a life form. You can't tell me that the authors of the Noah legend MUST HAVE MEANT viruses too?

      Notwithstanding those arguments, the real stake that I'm going to drive into the heart of Judaic mythology is the curious fact that the very similar story of Gilgamesh from Babylon PREDATES the writing of the story of Noah by no less than about 1000 years. Reference Wikipedia,

      January 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • No Monkeys No Atheists

      If only Noah had anticipated all these. There should be No Monkey, No HIV, No Ebola and most of all no insolent creatures to contaminate this blog.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:58 am |
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