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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.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

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. AK_steve

    Pleas Christians, don't take over football. I already get enough of your religion crammed down my throat through politics. Is nothing sacred anymore?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Me

      Agreed...EVERYTHING seems to be sacred now lol

      March 22, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Chad

      Are you talking about people like Tebow who simply TALK about their faith? I don't remember him at any time running around trying to proselytize anyone. Why are people so upset when someone talks about their faith? I wouldn't care if Muslims, Buddhists, and Mormons talked about their people. Doesn't mean it's going to convert me.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Shar

      AK_steve ~ You are sacred.
      We all are. Refreshing that Tebow knows that.
      Have a great day.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • TheBottomLine

      "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."

      It sounds like to me that these Christians would rather put their own selfish needs above God. Its as if they're saying, God can wait until Tuesday, I'd rather go fishing this Sunday.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • I am a rational Tebow Fan

      @ Abbot I'm an athiest Tebow fan. You have to step over the guise of religion to see someone's true character.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  2. sunpacific

    If Tim was a Muslim and "Tebowing" consisted of bowing prostrate on the ground, would Americans in general still support his overt expressions of faith?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Chris

      This is a point I just thought of too. As someone else has said: For God to manipulate sports undermines the purpose of sports.

      Christians are completely disconnected with reality when they think their god would cater to some famous sports star over those starving children in Africa. But, anymore, following the conservative Christian rule, Tebow WORKED HARD for his success, and those African children must be TOO LAZY to be as successful as he is. Therefore, he is more deserving of the grace of the creator of the universe.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Jerry

      Question is, would there be as many open attacks on Islam as there is against Tebow's faith?

      March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Ryan

      Well of course not; Teh U.S. is statistically a "Christian" country, meaning Christianity is the most widely accepted belief/religion. It would be much more controversial if it were Islam or Hindu being so publicized. That's just the facts about America's views.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Ryan

      @Jerry:

      Good question. Probably not

      March 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Abbot

      Only Christians support Tebow. Not all americans do. Athiest lamblast him.
      If a muslim or a hindu did this, I am sure thier communities will support him but not others.
      So stop thinking like a retard.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Abbot

      @Jerry: So true. I am sure then Tebow will be praised as an all american Muslim, and athiests who poke fun at him today will not do so because they will be so afraid of thier lives. P u$$ ys

      March 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • sunpacific

      @Abbot, I realize that this is a majority-Christian nation. The point is to open their minds and make them realize that they're not the only ones which they seem to think most of the time. The point is that people can express their faith in more subtle ways, without essentially showing it off like Tebow does. During my son's spelling bee, one kid kept Tebowing: I was like, okay, I get it- the kid wants to pray. But do it in your head: there's no need to disrupt everything and everyone. Christians have this inaccurate notion that they are the ones being picked on, that they're outnumbered. They're not. Expressing different points of view and offering narrow-minded people a different perspective is not retarded. But people who think that only their point of view is correct are the ones that retard the progress of society.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  3. Reality

    -This- Denver area Christian is -not- mourning Tebow's departure. The media is so full of crap it's ridiculous.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Chris

      I don't know why they'd say a certain area of Christians are mourning when it's various Christians all over the country. I wouldn't expect all Christians in Denver to be as irrational as the ones thinking God puts some magical hand in guiding Tebow through sports.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  4. David

    I have finally turned off all news, zip pass commercials and tuned out on cable news and most important hang up on robo calls.. Sick of the moral right wish they would all just go away, sick of sports and how in the name of god they can put bounties on players. I mean really get a life all of you.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  5. God

    What did I say about worshiping false gods? I'll get back to you in a while, I gotta listen to Rush talk about who I supposedly hate now.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Scuba Steve

      Why go men do to hell if they like other men?

      March 22, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • God

      @scuba steve

      I don't know, I never said that. Lots of people claim to speak for me, but I don't ever recall speaking to them.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Allah

      *rolls eyes*

      AYEYEYEYEEYLILILILILIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEE

      March 22, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  6. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Would Tebow fans find it also as heartwarming and inspiring if a nice, decent, devout young player sincerely showed his firm religious faith by gesturing to Buddha in the end zone in appreciation for a touchdown? Just asking.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • What Now

      That is the question everyone should be asking.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • tallulah13

      They would doubtless scream in outrage if a young Muslim player made a similar gesture.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • tintin

      Hell no...this is America baby, we only idolize Christians

      March 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Bullpucky, all Docs play Golf

      Have a sip from the cusp of my anus

      March 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Chad

      One, you clearly have no idea what Buddhists believe in to say that. Two, obviously Christians will identify more with another Christian expressing his faith just as Muslims and Hindus will gravitate toward their own. If you're trying to imply that Christians will castigate someone expressing another religion, then you're not talking about judgmental and legalistic people claiming to be Christians, not people who truly follow Christ.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Reality

      Please remember that there are plenty of Christians out there who would actually be perfectly fine with with that hypothetical situation because we don't allow our faith to blind us into forgetting what country we live in.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  7. MN

    If you feel better about your belief just because a celebrity shares it, you got problems.

    Don't rationalize it. If that's the bottom line, you seriously have issues.

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

      RN ~ If you can't live and let live ~ you have an even bigger problem.
      I am a Redskins Fan and I am a Tebow fan. I rooted for Denver because he was
      there not afraid in this era of judgement, to be Christian, to be human, and to coelesce
      the two so beautifully. Now I will be a Jets Fan!! My son-in-law will be happy ~ He loves
      the Jets!! RN ~ Any connection to God is a GOOD connection!! All the best.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  8. Kenny Blair

    He has. Read the book of Daniel.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  9. Chitown Jason

    You guys just got Peyton Manning, the best QB of all time. You'll get over it.

    He's a class act also, so you're not really losing anything in terms of personal character on the squad.

    Best of luck to Tebow, though.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  10. Evan

    If you all are gonna bash Tebow because of his faith, then you need to stop cheering for the Manning brothers, Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald, etc. It truly disgusts me to see people on here hoping that the city of New York corrupts such a caring, devout man. What kind of person wishes for the destruction of another's life for their own sick gratification? I'm glad Tebow thanks God after games, regardless of win or loss, and the man even spends his own money bringing fans to Broncos games. How dare we have a public figure who displays his faith and has proper morals. The audacity of him.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Denver Broncos Fan

      You are right. Tebow is pretty lame. (perhapts Jesus will heal him) LOL

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

      He gets bashed because of the ostentatious display of his faith...the whole "look at me, look at me, I love Jeebus" thing he insists on doing. Read the book of Matthew and see what it says in chapter 6 about public prayer and hypocrites.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      None of the people you mentioned are known for their faith, and Tebow is. Case closed.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      I wont bash him because of his faith....you can believe whatever religion you want. I will not bash him for the person he is. I will bash him for being a dog $h1t QB.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Me

      "Proper morals" according to YOU i.e. nobody worth anything more than anyone else. To the rest of us people like YOU lack "proper morals" so you want to go back on that statement about the "Era of Judgment" because it sounds like you are leading the charge, hypocrite. Proper morals?! Please go get over yourself.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Ryan

      @Mike

      So you actually read Matthew (I'm guessing maybe not the whole book) and all you thought was relevant enough to mention about prayer is that passage about public prayer and 'hypocrites' (that you are using HORRIBLY out of context)?

      What about the part in 1 Thessalonians that says to pray without ceasing? Or in Philippians when it says to bring everything to God in prayer? If there is a hypocrite here, it's you.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Mysymphony05

      @Ryan replying to Mike:

      "Good" Christians pull things out of the bible out of context all the time. Familiar with Leviticus? Eat shrimp? Let your wife/girlfriend be seen in publically when she's "unclean"? I don't care if Tebow wants to pray publically and I am a Christian. But don't try to criticize people for quoting the bible "out of context" because "good" Christians use the bible to promote hate and discrimination all the time.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Ryan

      @Mysymphony05

      What does '"good" Christians' doing it have to do with Mike? Nothing. Someone else doing it doesn't make it right. I'm calling him out because it's not right. You're talking about some obscure, unidentified people you call 'good' christians.

      Anyone who uses the bible to tear someone down is no 'good' Christian. In fact, they are the exact type of people Jesus is actually referring to in Matthew 6.

      I don't care who you say does it; if it's wrong, it's wrong.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  11. justme

    TTT timmy and the Jets? what a song writers and sports columnists dream,

    March 22, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • justme

      but not really Christlike.

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

      justme ~ Love your sense of humor ~ not to worry Christ definitely
      had one or he would not have made it here on this earth!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • justme

      shar, yes he did have a great sense of humor, but he is also serious and he will soon show how serious he is about the fun people have at his and his people's expense.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  12. MNTaxpayer

    Why do people insist on making athletes in to something more important than what they are? He's a football player, no more, no less. It's porbably only a matter of time before his image is shattered for one reason or another. Does Tiger Woods ring a bell?

    March 22, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • What Now

      You make a valid point. When he comes up with a cure for cancer, I'll be impressed. Meanwhile, I wish he would keep his religious demonstrations to himself.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Shar

      MN Taxpayer ~ Tebow is not ashamed of Christ! Wow!~ How refreshing!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  13. Denver Broncos Fan

    LOL This guy is only a friggin' football player, not the "Second Coming". Heck, he wasen't eving the "First Coming".

    March 22, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Shar

      Denver Broncos Fan ~ I don't need to defend Tebow ~ God will do that and
      he is watching for sure! Who knows what Tebow's journey will be ~ any more
      than I know what your's will be ~ I wish you and Tebow the best.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    I'm sure he'll be surprised when he arrives in New York riding a donkey and finds no one waving plam fronds at him.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Me

      hehehe nice

      March 22, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Shar

      The Real Tom Paine would not have said that.
      So now we know what the scandal is ~ you are NOT
      TRTP.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  15. Johnnnn

    Take heart Denver...if God really had tebow's back, you'd have a superbowl trophy and NO peyton manning...

    March 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  16. Mike

    Goodness, it didn't event take Tebow three days to rise again.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      lol where did he rise to? third string QB on the jets thats where.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  17. Atheus

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  18. torqueflite

    I have no dislike of Mr. Tebow, who seems to be a nice guy despite his clear association with the well-known hate group Focus on the Family. It will be a relief to be rid of genuflecting zombies along the Front Range, though. In New York, they see all sorts of circuses on a daily basis and will react to the Christianist frenzy with a collective yawn.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Shar

      torqueflite ~ Oh you mean like after 9/11 when the soul of New York
      turned to Christ and to God for comfort?? Like that?? Like they yawned??
      No, torqueflite, they prayed. Try it ~ you might like it.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • torqueflite

      You're equating football with 9/11? You need help, pal. Find a shrink NOW.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  19. J

    If there was an Almighty I'm pretty sure he has better things to do than bless the play of a professional football player.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Shar

      J ~ Take comfort. There is a real Almighty and he is watching Tebow
      and everyone, including you. How comforting in the bad times and in the
      good times. Have faith, J, and have a good day.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  20. What Now

    I believe Mr. Tebow needs to review his bible verses regarding praying in public.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Brad

      What Now, Jesus was never against pubilc praying, with all due respect, I think you misunderstand the verses in the bible where Jesus mentions the Pharisees who prayed publicly just to be SEEN by others, Jesus was speaking to the INTENT AND MOTIVES of some who pray publicly, in fact He says they "love to be seen" instead of actually communicating with God. There are plenty of people who prayed publicly in the bible and now, hope that helps.

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

      Brad, the point is, Tebow could easily be doing it just to be seen. I can't say what's in his heart, nor can you. I think What Now is making the point that Jesus told us to be skeptical of people praying and professing faith in such public ways. Does that mean Tebow is automatically false? Not at all, but it raises the question that can only be answered by getting to know him.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      We get it. Its his intent and motives people question, and if he knows that is waht that scripture refers to, he would tell people NOT to do it simply to get attention. He did not, so that clearly raises a legit question about his motives and intent.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • JPopNC

      You have to take into account the context of the Bible verses surrounding the passage about praying in public. Jesus was talking about the Pharisee that prays loudly so everyone notices what he's doing. Tebow did this long before anyone noticed, plus he's doing it to honor God, not himself.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Me

      JPop you believe that but you can't know it, neither can I. You can believe what he SAYS though.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:09 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.