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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. 32slim32

    If Tebow wore "Rainbow" eye black out and ran down and hunched his receiver after a touchdown he'd be a darling of the media and Bill Maher would probably be jealous it wasn't him being hunched.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Lew

      Bill Maher would be fingering himself...he's so gay

      January 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  2. Caleb F.

    Prediction for the game: Brady throws for 500 yards and 4 touchdowns and the Patriots win 35-14 and go on to win the Super Bowl. Tebow throws three interceptions and the Broncos sign a new quarterback in the offseason. Sorry Tim but only a Manning can beat Brady in the playoffs

    January 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Tim's' Mom

      Tim is about to be destroyed by God for the 2nd time this year. Well, Tim's defense will be destroyed and he will likely suck.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • jzizzy

      or sanchez... or plummer

      January 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  3. John the Baptist

    Out of all the problems in the world why the hell is GOD watching Tebag play football. Tebow is proof that football causes brain damage.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Noah

      And you are John the Baptist? Do you know who he was? Check out Mattias Grunwald paint of Joh the Baptist and you will know who he was.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  4. Charles Schwabe

    I respect the opportunity that every American has to practice their religious belief as they see fit. I love that we have the ability to talk to God in our own way and on our own terms. The problem as I see it is there are far to many who want to make everyone else see the world as they see it. There are far to many who want me to believe in God, and worship as they worship. We are becoming a society that is churning and stirring religion into every other walk of life. It is this very idea that scare our forefathers and they created rules to prevent this. I love that all men can pray as they see fit. But not on the football stage and not in stadiums paid for my public dollars. I want to enjoy football. I don't have to be subjected to all the religious view points of every player, coach and owner that fill the stadiums. To many think this public venue is their stage to get across how they feel about god and worship. Pray and worship in your homes, your churches and your private lives. You dont have to push your point of view on me while I am watching a game. I practice in my way and I respect others to practice in theirs. I would ask that others have the same respect for me as I for them. Keep your religion at home and in your hearts. Keep it out of my life where it is not welcome. I will talk to god in my way in my heart and in my own space.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Bigsancho

      BigSancho Says: Well said, Charles!

      January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  5. Absutoth

    I hate both. I hope Tom Brady and Tim Tebow both come out of the game with injuries.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  6. Holy Cow!!

    Where would you like all the proof of evolution sent? I hope you have a BIG warehouse .. it's gunna take a lot of room buddy.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  7. Laura

    Personally, I'll be glad when football season is over and God starts paying more attention to world hunger, diseases, abuse, neglect, wars, etc. than he does the football games. I mean...I'm as big a fan as the next person but we all need to work for a living!

    January 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Bigsancho

      BigSancho Says: Fat chance. Word is, God's a huge baseball fan partial to that team in Anaheim

      January 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  8. 32slim32

    Seems like ole Deion Sanders was fairly religious and fairly vocal about it. Why wasn't he considered polarizing? Because he is black and that would be a racist thing to say?

    January 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  9. Noah

    I hope Tim Tebow is the real deal too. I think most people who go to church want to be the real deal. Church is like the hospital where al the wounded go seeking health. Church people might be dealing with hypocrecy trying to be more geunine every day. We will still make mistakes, but the hope is to be a better person every day.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • KmoTT

      I do not go to church weekly like Tebow but I admir him as sên on the field, living, reports. The media and the liberal are joking about Tebow but they do not understand it. HE DOES NOT PRAY FOR HELPS TO WIN THE GAME. HE PRAYS THE LORD TO GIVE HIM A PEACE OF MIND SO THAT HE CAN EXCECUTE, PLAY THE GAME BETTER.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  10. Gary

    Every father may prefer their daughter date Tebow but the same fathers would rather be Brady.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Lew

      so?

      January 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  11. Ken

    Tom Brady is a man living his own life, regardless of what his mother thinks. Tim Tebow is an approval junkie who will try to please everyone while using God as a gimmick. But at least his mommy will approve!

    January 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Lew

      That's your opinion. Maybe Brady has been brainwashed by liberal retards

      January 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Wow

      Hey look everyone! This guy knows Tom Brady personally and everything about the way he thinks!!

      January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • neil ill

      @Lew

      How are bring political affiliation into this is absurd. Social and political issues are not cut from the same cloth.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Ken

      @ Wow . . . it's called context. Brady was characterized by the author as the quintessential role model for teenage boys, and Tebow as the momma's boy. Next time read the article.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  12. aaron

    id doesn't bother me at all except for the fact that god isn't real and this guy is praying to nothing.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes the saint
    Prayer changes the sinner
    Prayer changes life

    January 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • matt houston

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living beings???

      Apparently atheism is producing innumerable healthy living beings such as tigers, lions, elephants, fish, birds, insects...

      You should think before you type.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Wholly Mary

      I'm praying... you'll go away.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Lew

      Atheism is not producing science...it is only producing zombies believing that two men can get married and that we are some kind of apes

      January 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Speaking of thinking before you type. All God's creation is in obedience to God except mankind. All those animals,fish and insects you mentioned are aware of and obedient to their creator God.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Matt ... "If horses had Gods, their Gods would be horses". -Xenophanes (ancient Greek philosopher.. even back then they knew better)

      January 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • just sayin

      WhollyMary: God will not honor a prayer in direct opposition to his word. Prayers for greed and sin are not going to be answered by God either. Prayers in violation of His nature will also not be recognized.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, really? So why doesn't he answer prayers to heal children who are suffering from progeria? Cancer?

      Are THOSE prayers in opposition to "his will", muttonhead?

      January 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Wholly Mary

      Doncha know sarcasm when ya see it, just say'n.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, yeah, I love how you assume that your "going away" is in opposition to 'his will', you ignorant drip.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      Tom, why didn't God stop Cain from murdering Able? Those "unanswered" prayers may be our responsibility. Are you doing your part to see God's grace extended to all human kind?

      January 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Prove that he did any such thing with any other source than the Bible, you moronic dolt.

      January 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  14. Samuel

    I wonder who will be the evangelical flavor of the month when Tebow loses a game.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Jim

      Would that be the same as asking who the Mitt Romney of the NFL is?

      January 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • dragontrlr

      he has lost 5 of them already just as a starter, yet he still remains the figure he is going in to today

      January 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Lew

      It's just a game..it is not important.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  15. JohnRJ08

    I am compelled to respond to this article about Tebow. I used to be in a church where everyone in the congregation was incapable of uttering a sentence without invoking the name of the Lord. No subject matter was too petty to get Jesus involved. The stench of spiritual pridefulness drove me out of the church. I began to think that some of these people had simply found a drug that was less expensive and dangerous than methamphetamine. If it wasn't for their emotional dependence on their religious "high", they probably would have been alcoholics or heroin addicts (assuming they weren't secretly anyway). I have met a lot of these people over the years. People like Tebow, who wear their religious zealotry on their sleeve and never miss an opportunity to make God part of ANY conversation. It's like an obsession caused by some sort of disorder that is either pathological or purely emotional. Am I sour on religion? I don't think so. I'm sour on people who have become unable to distinguish between spirituality and the real world. For many people, the issue of belief in God is a long and difficult emotional journey that they wrestle with on a deeply personal level their entire life. It's not the kind of subject that they would enjoy having rubbed in their face incessantly by some spoiled, over-zealous professional athlete who sounds like he's been playing too many years without a helmet. At a certain point, all the religious pronouncements begin to look a little bent and out of touch with reality. Jesus is not always the answer. Sometimes, the right answer is "I just don't know". That is also the most honest answer because, in the end, NOBODY knows for sure.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • matt houston

      Amen brother. It's pretty ridiculous to watch how prideful and fearful these people are. They just can't live life without the thought that some super power is watching over them...and when disaster strikes, the reasons are either: The devil did it. Or...God works in mysterious ways.

      Stupid is what stupid does.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • aaron

      i like your response, except for the las part when you say nobody knows for sure. the only thing that is for sure is that god is not real. man made all the way.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Wholly Mary

      AMEN!

      January 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • matt houston

      I disagree with aaron. In regards to the existence of God or gods...one thing is absolutely certain: NOBODY KNOWS for sure.
      People like aaron will say they know for sure, but their certainty is based only on their senses and scientific methods...both of which are severely limited to their own tiny understanding of reality. Try asking a scientist about dark matter or dark energy...they will only tell you guesses...so much for the power of science. That being said, I think science is much more sane and logical choice to explore and learn about reality than religions.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Noah

      Instead of calling reliogiosity a 'drug' a would call a 'healthy and constructive way to cope with life'. True, some church goers might seem a little out there, but most of them I think are searching for meaning and happinnes.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Michael

      Wow, John. I am not sure I have ever, _ever_ heard/read a better explanation and response. I just am going to stop there. Extremely, _extremely_ well put. (And, in my opinion, you did not – whatsoever – come off sour, hateful, angry, or bitter in your response/post. This was just very well stated.)

      January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Terri McCarthy

      I agree! I think it was the wise words of "the Fonz" that once said, "Cool is someone who doesn't have to try to be cool." Stop trying so hard, Tebow.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • JohnRJ08

      Francis Schaffer, one of the great Christian theologians, wrote about "doubt" being the essence of faith. Without doubt, there can be no faith. There can be no human struggle with the nature of the Universe and the existence of the soul. When I hear unequivocal expressions of 100% certainty about ANYTHING relating to any aspect of God and spirituality, I hear delusional thinking OR the fatuousness of proselytizing. If you have no doubts about your faith, then you have no faith at all.

      A lot of people enjoy football. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Krishnas, Taoists, Wiccans, agnostics and atheists (I apologize if I left out your religion). When I watch a football game, I'm not really interested in listening to some kid in a football uniform who continually displays blatant indifference to the beliefs of other people and their sensitivities. Jesus had little to do with Tebow's victories and, if He did, that's between Tebow and Him.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  16. Roger

    Rather than the mom. It should be that Tim Tebow is the boy that every girl's father wants for his precious daughter

    January 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Earl

      Tebow has never been with a woman. To date has never dated any woman.

      Let's be realistic, Tebow is the man every mother wants their gay son to date.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • KmoTT

      This is his personal life, do I care he is dating or not? the answer is just simply: NO, NO, NO. So, please leave the kid alone. He is a good kid so far for his profession.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  17. Terri McCarthy

    Their is no doubt in my mind that each completed pass or touchdown play made my Tebow is a devine intervention. I'm sure with all the hunger and famine, poverty and violence in the world, God has set this all aside to attend to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. GIVE ME A FRIGGIN BREAK!!!!! Suddenly Tebow is the king of the world because he flaunts his so-called religious belief. Gets down on one knee and blows god a kiss when he scores a touchdown. To even hint at God having anything to do with his success on the football field, is ludicrous and insulting on so many levels. So he hears the wish of Tebow to score a touchdown, but has ignored the prayers of parents who's sons or daughters were killed in the war or are dying from a terminal illness. How about all the starving children in Haiti or those dying of AIDS in Africa. I know now why that's happening, it's because God is too busy tending to Tebow. Shame on you Tebow for even hinting at this and all the fans out there who feel this is a priority for God.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • ????

      Quite simply, a great post,thanks. I agree.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Terri McCarthy

      Please let me add, Tim Tebow is a talented player, as is Tom Brady. Their winning or losing has nothing to do with a religious belief or being a playboy. These are two very talented athletes, period.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  18. 32slim32

    It is so good to see the preachers of tolerance ( you know the liberals) being so tolerant with Tebow. It's called freedom of religion. Deal with it. There is no separation of church and football. If you don't like it, watch something else.

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

      If Tebow supported gay marriage or some stupid crap like that they would say he's a hero or something...liberal hypocrisy

      January 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Gary

      Lew- And if he did support gay marriage he would be a villain in your eyes...conservative hypocrisy.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Lew

      He would be a stupid a$s just like you because that crap does not make any sense...It's so stupid it's laughable ...

      January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  19. Lew

    Evolution is not even science... poor stupid atheists...

    January 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Karl

      If it sin't then neither is gravity. Poor stupid stupid people.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Lew

      Ok, then show the proof of evolution...let me laugh at your stupid fairy tale of the ape becoming a man lol

      January 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Wow, do you even realize how ignorant you sound? Every time a follower opens their mouth or posts absurdity, it just solidifies the common sense that is atheism.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Karl

      There are literally thousands of scientific articles that have evidence of evolution. Go read them.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Mark

      I'm an Atheist and I am sick to death of the "god" talk. there isn't any god.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • JohnRJ08

      The THEORY of Evolution is based upon the scientific method. No genuine scientist has EVER said it is the Fact of Evolution. However, the evidence which supports the theory is unambiguous empirical knowledge which has been gathered over hundreds of years by dedicated, highly trained people who have no vested interested in what they will find. The investigation begins with a clean slate and no assumptions. If a finding disproves a previously accepted theory, so be it. The objective of science is the discovery of truth which can be demonstrated via repeated experimentation. You don't have to be an atheist or a believer to be a scientist. And you don't have to be an atheist to accept the current theory about life's origin on this planet. What you do have to be is open-minded. A religious zealot is the most close-minded person on Earth.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Jim

      Over 85% of scientists who are Christian believe that evolution is accurate. People like you are not even normal in the Christian faith.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Brian

      LOL...poor stupid Lew.
      1) All you have to do is search Google for reputable articles regarding evolution. While there, learn what evolution is.
      2) You can see evolution take place even today with bacteria. Today we have a problem with more and more bacteria becoming immune to some of the commonly used anti-bacterial medicines we use. These things, known as "super bugs", have adapted to the point where most anti-biotics will not work. That is evolution at work. The only reason why it takes less time is simplistic nature of bacteria (single cell organisms). It takes thousands, even millions of years for complex life forms, such as humans, to change. You can still see small adaptations that have taken place in the past few thousand years. For example, our jaw line is smaller today than early humans because don't need a larger jaw line. More people are being born without wisdom teeth because, again, we don't need it anymore.
      3) An ape did not just become a human one day. It happened over many millions of years. We share a common ancestor with modern day apes because in general our bone structure, and DNA are very similar. In fact, we share most of our DNA with chimps. This ancestor basically began to diversify based on the needs of the species. After a long time, you have completely different species. Some gained the ability to walk on two legs, developed the brain capacity use tools, etc. because it provide them with an advantage. Whereas others it was not required, so the species never developed it. You can even see some modern day apes using basic tools. We developed a larger brain because it gave us a huge advantage, and was generally favorable for the species to have. So you get natural selection. Now we are to the point where we can actually manipulate the evolutionary process, and force certain genetic changes and adaptations within species (commonly seen with our food, such as corn).

      January 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  20. aanallein

    LOL @ atheists who get uncomfortable around displays of belief.

    I'm an agnostic and what he does doesn't bother me at all. People believe differently than you. Feeling threatened by a guy kneeling amounts to idiocy.

    January 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Most legitmate atheists aren't threatened by this praying stuff .. we're embarased for those doing it in public. Foolish things should be done in the privacy of their homes.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • JohnRJ08

      What if Tebow stepped up the microphone and said, "All praise to Allah"? How would you feel then? Or what he thanked Gaia for his victory? Or Lucifer?

      Genuine religious belief is a private matter. Vocal displays of faith on network television are just tacky.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Threatened?... not in the least. It's simply as ludicrous as if he waved around his lucky, sweaty, unwashed jockstrap.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
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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.