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Denver Christians mourn Tebow’s departure, say they’ll root from afar
Tim Tebow will now be "Tebowing" for the New York Jets.
March 21st, 2012
02:28 PM ET

Denver Christians mourn Tebow’s departure, say they’ll root from afar

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – When star quarterback Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos this week, Denver pastor Jim Mackey signed at the thought that Tim Tebow probably wouldn’t be wearing Broncos blue and orange next season. The Broncos don’t need two star quarterbacks and the New York Jets announced Wednesday that Tebow is now theirs.

“It was a topic of conversation last night,” Mackey said in a phone interview Wednesday, describing Tuesday night services at his Next Level Church.

“It is an emotional thing and a bit more emotional for people who have connected with Tebow’s expression of faith,” Mackey said. “Rather than just a QB controversy, which is not unique in the NFL, this does seem to have hit more of a personal nerve for those in the Christian community.”

Mackey’s church meets Tuesday nights, not Sunday mornings, because Mackey believes Sunday is a day for people to do Colorado things – skiing, hiking and Broncos games.

Tebow, who helped turn the bottom-dwelling Broncos into a playoff team last year, transcended sports with his overt professions of faith and his late game heroics, which led some to believe that God was on the young quarterback’s side.

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Throughout the season, Tebow’s jersey was flying off the racks and “Tebowing” – the act of getting down on one knee and praying while everyone around you does something else – became to be an internet meme and widely recognized symbol. Tebow quickly became the public face of FRS Company and Jockey; for months, it was hard to click on ESPN without hearing his name.

“Tim Tebow seems to have won the hearts of not only football fans in Denver but the people here at large,” said Rob Brendle, pastor at the evangelical Denver United Church. “One of the most exciting aspects of last season was that casual sports fans and those who aren’t even interested in football, like my wife, became captivated by the influence of Tim Tebow.”

“Around the water cooler and in church, there is sadness at the likelihood of his departure,” Brendle said, a few hours before the Jets announcement.

Though Tebow cashed in with endorsements, he also lent his face and celebrity to causes he believed in, many in the Denver area. Like many players, Tebow invited individual fans to his games. In his last game with the Broncos, a playoff face-off with quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Tebow hugged Kelly Faughnan, a 22-yard old female who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and whom the Tebow Foundation had invited to the game.

Brendle said that Tebow showed that you can be both good at sports and good at giving back.

“It is hard not to cheer for the Christian kid,” Brendle said.

Jim Daly, president of the Colorado Springs-based evangelical group Focus on the Family, teamed up with Tebow for antiabortion Super Bowl ad last year. The spot illustrated how comfortable Tebow is trumpeting his Christian beliefs, even on a polarizing issue.

“I think there is going to be this period of mourning for Tim Tebow’s departure,” Daly said. “I think that that affection that people have for Tebow goes well beyond Denver and his ability to play football.”

Daly says Focus still hopes to work with Tebow in the future.

“Regardless of where he is, he is a national celebrity and it would be great to work with him again – even if he is in New York,” Daly said.

Matthew Ware, Executive and Worship Pastor at Victory Church in Denver, said Tebow fans were hoping for the quarterback to stay local even after the Manning announcement.

“I think most people were hoping for a "both/and" instead of an "either/or" situation,” Ware said. “We love the idea that perhaps Manning could ‘disciple’ Tebow into greatness in the next few years.”

Many believers in Denver will now have to balance being a Broncos fan with rooting for a New York-based Tebow.

“Tebowmania has a magnetism and loyalty that's undeniable,” Ware said. “While most people will ultimately support their home team, once in a while a player comes along that wins your heart. Tebow is that kind of player. He'll have Denver fans no matter where he plays.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Colorado • New York • Sports • United States

soundoff (1,423 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    The implication about hating was certainly there when you referred to him as " Ego". Its not an act of constructive criticism.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Somebody said

      Hate and ego are no synonymous, just so you know. But I will retract the word "ego." I'm glad Tim will not be under the influence of John Elway anymore because it was clear to everyone John does not like Tim. Parting ways is best for both.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  2. AreDub

    Tebow is a self serving jerk and his public demonstrations of his faith are obnoxious. I almost, but not quite, feel sorry for him because he is red meat for the fans in New York.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  3. rob

    What a joke...

    March 22, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  4. Athiest Bob

    did journalists incite hatred of christians?

    March 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • John

      Indirectly, they do.. while he was winning close games last year; they made it seem as if he were being guided by the divine hand of God himself.. of course, once he falls; the headlines are somewhere along the lines of, "where is your God now"? But to a more direct answer to your question would be, no. Religion does a good enough job on its own in that department without the media's help.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Denver Broncos Fan

      I hope so.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  5. John

    Careful folks; don't blame Tebow or religion here; although both receive a fair share of ire from me regularly.. this article is intended to incite reaction. Reporters are cowards who instigate furor and instigate discrimination and hate, while hiding behind a pen or monitor. Don't let your frustration be ill-aimed.. always consider the source and the intent. Peace

    March 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Paul

      And Tebow's a dick and so is any other player who brings religion into a public sport. Keep it to yourself dick.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Darwin

      Peace

      March 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  6. Paul

    Attention Morons. Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. If he passed the physical and was guaranteed at the very least 20 million you can bet he is ready.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Darwin

      Testify!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Somebody said

      And yet his own team didn't want him.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      Somebody:
      Manning at 70% is better than Tebow at 100%. It has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with skill, experience and intelligence.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  7. up2myneck

    The only way you can fire Jesus....is to hire God 😉

    March 22, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  8. lord vader

    Boy there sure are a bunch of "peace" loving atheists with their war comments bashing Christianity in this blog!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • tallulah13

      Funny. I'm talking about football. Are you sure you're in the right place?

      Oh wait! I did see some christians bashing Denver, Manning and Elway and anyone who doesn't think Tebow is the second coming. Perhaps that's what you're talking about.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  9. mark fausnaugh

    way to go Denver, you "prayed away the tebow" and in return got someone who 'can' play the game.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  10. Barry

    The people who made the desicion to trade Tebow for a has been injured quarterback are as spiritualy blind as many who post comments here, they crucified their blessing. Tebow has no where to go but up while Manning has no where to go but down. Classic!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Darwin

      ... deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow...

      March 22, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • tallulah13

      Despite his injury and age, Manning offers leadership and experience. If he is fully recovered from his injury, he will likely return to being one of the premier QBs in the game. Even if he isn't fully recovered he is still a better QB than Tebow with his limited skill set can ever be. Manning knows how to lead and how to win and how to mentor younger players - something the Broncos need.

      On the other hand, defenses have already solved Tebow. Unless he reinvents himself (and who knows, he just might), the remainder of his career will be spent mopping up for the starting QB of whatever team his playing for.

      Pro football is a business. This has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with the quality and skills of the players involved.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Warning to kids...look at Barry...this is your brain on Jesus.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • wow

      shut up barry. that was brutally stupid

      March 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Me

      Attention All: Barry is the authority on spiritual matters, he alone can determine who is spiritually sound and who is not. Just FYI.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  11. Raider Fan

    My husband is a Bronco fan ever since Elway was quarterback. When they signed Peyton my immediate thought was, "What a great mentor for Tebow" who needs mentoring to channel his skills that could make him a great quarterback. Tebow should have taken the back up position, got a great schooling from two of the best in in the NFL (past and present) and when Peyton gets hurt (after all he is 35) he could have stepped up and lead the team on to a Superbowl. His loss – my loss because Denver is going to lead the division and my Raiders have no chance.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      tebow had no choice in the matter.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  12. Barry G.

    I'm now a Jets fan.

    Go, Tim, go!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm now a Broncos fan. I'm rooting for the whole team.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  13. Pat

    poor denver christians............sob..............next?

    March 22, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  14. Chuck Anziulewicz

    Tim Tebow took what should be a humble, private expression of faith and turned it into a pious public spectacle. I wonder how well that's going to fly with the New York Jets.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Somebody said

      He knelt and prayed silently. I have no doubt God looked down and appreciated being remembered by this kid. LOTS of players have knelt and prayed. But for some reason the media took this and ran with it and made it into a huge deal. It's not. It's prayer. End of story.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • MN

      "I have no doubt God looked down"

      How do you know what direction God is looking? Kind of presumptuous.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      He knelt and prayed silently. On national TV. In front of thousands in the stands. It's no different than the "Icky Shuffle", or any other on-field personal celebration. It takes the spotlight from the team and puts it on an individual. A truly humble man would have quietly prayed as he made his way to the sidelines - without making a spectacle.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  15. Somebody said

    As a Denver Broncos fan for 30 years, I'm glad Tim is leaving. He doesn't need to be under the negativity of John "Ego" Elway anymore. Hopefully the Jets will appreciate him and mold him into the NFL quarterback he has always had the potential to be. Denver lost me as a fan. Can't say I'll be a Jets fan, but I am firmly on Team Tebow.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Let's see....you're walking away from your team of 30 years because of a mediocre QB, and you just stated you hate the only QB in franchise history because you think he has a huge ego? Do you think Tebowing is the act of a humble man? Its no different from a sack dance. You must not have been much of a Broncos fan, and you're probably a worse Christian if you follow the antics of an narcisstic egomaniac like Tebow.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Banker

      Well said "above"

      March 22, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Somebody said

      I'm walking away from a team I have no respect for due to their leadership. Decided football will never be more important than integrity.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • eastrowandad

      Absolutely right Tom P. Preforming an act of humbleness when you know millions are watching you is no act of humility . A guy much smarter than me once said " If you think your humble ......................your NOT !!!!!!! "

      March 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Somebody said

      And Tom, I never said I "hated" Elway. Just don't like being lied to.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Somebody said

      I have no clue why you are all so upset because Tebow prays!!! Who cares if people are watching???? I mean it...WHO REALLY CARES????? Let him pray, for goodness sake. It's far better than some of the other things you see players and coaches do on the sidelines!!! Sheesh, people. Stop judging the kid and let him pray!!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      If you are that concerned about integrity, walk away from sports, politics, religion and life....If you want perfection, an overpaid 20-something who degrades an act of humility by performing it in front of thousands is not where you will find it.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  16. ann west

    🔴 bye big nose

    March 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Somebody said

      Very mature.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  17. marc

    Tebow is terrible. His throwing motion is just horrible and so is his accuracy. The only reason why he won a couple games last year was because of his defense

    March 22, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Somebody said

      And yet the defense didn't help Orton win....

      March 22, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • John

      David was a runt.A little shepherd boy.He killed a lion,bear and a giant because the Lord was with him.The same for Tim .He will do well no matter where he goes

      March 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • tallulah13

      Defenses have solved Tebow. Unless he radically changes his game (and who knows? he might), he will spend the rest of his short career mopping up for the starting QBs on whatever teams he ends up with.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  18. Jeb

    Tebow should have prayed for a better throwing arm.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  19. Jeb

    God was as tired of Tebow as the rest of us.

    Bu bye Timmy.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • John

      Tim Tebow will be blessed no matter where he goes.You not so much

      March 22, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • tallulah13

      Do you speak for god now, John? Are you the one who determines blessings? Is this the sort of "humility" you've learned from Tebow?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Me

      John, stick a fork in it. Jeb doesn't know that God god tired of him (even though the rest of us sure did) and you have absolutely no idea that God will bless him nor that Jeb will not be blessed. You are like everyone else, ignorant and ordinary.. Just get over yourself and stop speaking for God.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  20. angryfrench

    Dan Merica needs to hire a proof reader or get some sleep. Wake up, Mr. Sloppy Copy!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • JJ

      22 yard old female.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:26 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.