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. Lindalulu

    I'm here to tell you that it's not just Christians that are mourning! What a stupid headline!

    March 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. Mystery

    Good riddance!
    I live in Denver and frustrated to see how many brought stupid religion into football due to Tim.
    Hopefully, we can watch a cleaner game.

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

      You suck!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  3. Abbot

    This agnostic from chicago thinks Tebow is an outstanding young man with good character and integrity who spends a lot of free time doing charity work.
    I see no complains from these arogant self rigtheous pundits and media, who poke fun at guys like him and give a pass to people like Lindsey lohan or Paris hilton who spends thier time on self indulgence.
    This kind of behavious is what these morons promote to our youth and people like Tebow are made fun of.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  4. Martin

    wear your relligion on your sleeve and you'll get a broken arm...guaranteed

    March 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  5. David

    If Jusus was here he would hate the way we use his name for greed and corruption. As for false gods? Give us all a break. A touchdown is just that, I mean really get a life. Give your season ticket money to feed the poor not to enrich the greedy.

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

      If Jesus returned today, Christians would crucify him all over again because he would rail against their greed, hypocrisy, corruption.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  6. JEN


    March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  7. Michael Wong

    I always find it hilarious when Bible thumpers post on places like this and tell followers of other religions to "rest assured" that Christianity is correct. Oh I see, a person who spent a lifetime as a Buddhist will suddenly see the "truth" of Christianity because a Christian on the CNN forums told him to "rest assured" that it's true! Well, that's just an unstoppable argument, isn't it?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • justme

      mile? where would you find them ? do you know where you are ?

      March 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    I wonder what people would think if Tebow were Muslim and insisted on praying on the field with a prayer rug? Where would the love be then?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      Husain Abdullah who played on the vikings in 09-10 is muslim and people were up in arms about him fasting during the season.

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

      ahhh, Mecca?!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Martin

      according to the Jesus character, people should pray in their closets, not publicly...Tebow is a talented, though slow learning athelete. Its a shame he goes to the Philipines and mutilates young boys genitals....he should be arrested...

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

      The problem is when muslims lift thier asses to pray; that is a ghastly sight.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • MNTaxpayer


      I live in MN and am a casual Vikings fan. I never heard anything a bout it.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  9. Darren

    If anything, Tebow brought an awakening to a sleepy Denver CO that had not been seen since their last Super Bowl days.

    It was a short sweet run... One that will not be forgotten and that will go down in NFL record books under "Players that changed the city and their fans!"

    Unfortunately in NY, the media hype is going to swell to being an enomorous news and marketing tsunami... One that has never been witnessed before: reporting every micro move and comment made by Tebow!

    March 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  10. Jeb

    Tebow is a mediocre player.

    He should really pray for a better arm.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Logic

      His arm is not the problem, it is his head.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  11. Mike

    What idiotic people i guess now( including myself sense i'm posting) that has so much negative energy towards a young man who has done nothing to hurt anyone, said nothing negative to anyone, and tries to help everyone..Tim if they hated Jesus they will hate you...It's not you Tewbow that they hate..They hate Jesus. Anyone that's loves God in senserity will see that you are a fine humble young man. Each of us will stand before this Jesus one day..including buddist and muslims that you can rest assured of..and many on this post even will be rejected. There are many christians in the league and I'm proud that you honor our lord publicly..Many cowarda are afraid...He's with you tim but it's much bigger than football..Tewbow fan in Texas...

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


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

      Sounds like a bona fide Texan for you. Would you self-righteous idiots just secede already? If Jesus Christ approached you today, I doubt many Christians would recognize him. So let's be perfectly honest, few people hate Jesus, it's His followers (ahem, YOU) they can't stand, since they are NOTHING like Him.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Seriously?

      Mike that was hysterical, talk about a delusional person. Wow.

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

      The reason why tebow catches all this hype is simply because he is a public figure. It has nothing to do with all that non sense you just wrote about. Oh by the way, god is not real, he was made up by people of power to control the population of people below them. Religion is used by people of power as a tool to control others.

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

      he hurts, mutilates, young Philipino boys...

      March 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Bet you pack a big Teaxs gun, too, as a Christian soldier.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • John

      Jesus would appreciate you using spell check when you represent for Him.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Noni

      Mike, ignore all the detractors, haters will learn the truth one day and it will be too late. Tebow is a fine young man and I wish him well wherever he goes. These are the same people who scream out for "equality" yet cannot tolerate the thought of giving Christians the same consideration. God is made up???? I'd almost like to be a fly on the wall when you come face to face with him.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  12. Shaad

    I despise the fact that this religious idiot is heading to NY, time to stop supporting the Jets. I am hoping though that the liberal NYC atmosphere might teach him that there is no god.

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

      Shaad- story for a while was he was OK with heathen NYC over his sentimental home area of JAX; You'll have to think hard to figure out why, but if any of informed non-believers on the belief blog know the New Testament you'll know when you hit upon the right reason for his willing to enter the liberal cesspool of humanity posing as the NY sports/society scene. (SaStL)

      March 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      Brek, Tebow was under contract with the Jets....he had NO CHOICE where he was going.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Brek

      @youig... may or may not be true but here is the article: http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2012/3/21/2892372/tim-tebow-trade-broncos-jaguars-jets/in/2648677

      March 22, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  13. CT

    Are these church leaders aware that Peyton Manning is a Christian, along with about 90 percent of the rest of the team? I guess they don't pray as loud as Tebow, so they don't count.

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

      Very well said...I guess Tebow is the only one they care about.....screw the rest...

      March 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  14. M.E.

    Actually, I'm not mourning the loss at all. I'm quite happy that all the obnoxious headlines will be leaving town. I've hated Captain Squeaky-Clean ever since he first showed up in town. I'm very glad he's not a long term player here because I'd hate to have kids a couple years down the line and find them looking up to someone who blindly believes ridiculous things and pushes his faith on others through commercials. Their dad would have a worse time with it than I do too since he's solidly atheist. Tebow is exactly the kind of person we DON'T want our kids pretending to be while playing in the yard.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Brek

      yeah stick to emulating Elway, in the long run that will benefit your kids future much much better! (if only they would serve Gatorade thirst quencher there-wait a minute that might be too strongly tebow connected for you!)

      March 22, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Saresse

      Your a pathetic person... no wonder this world is so screwed up

      March 22, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Brek

      Truth ain't relative baby, my opinion (as is yours) IS irrelevant!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  15. Jeb

    Timmy didn't pray hard enough. Now he has to go away.

    Buh bye Timmy.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  16. David

    I too got sick of seeing Tebow's public displays of faith. Jesus encouraged people to go to their private rooms to pray, not make
    a big spectacle of prayer. Also agree that Focus on the Family is a hate group.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Martin

      all evangelicals are pious haters

      March 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  17. Peter E

    Who cares! He is a mediocre QB. He wasn't helping his team win. He was risking the team losing. His 'comebacks' are just an indication how terrible a QB he is the rest of the time. No wonder the Broncos quickly got rid of him. He was only an embarrasment. The Broncos would have won against Brady if Tebow would have passed the ball the way most NFL QBs do.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  18. Pierre C.

    He didnt die, just switched teams. Hes not even thatt good, manning is better so be happy. Pshh Christians, anything to make headlines

    March 22, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  19. kendog

    Christians are adult-children believing in fairytales. Unable to grapple with life, they cling to myth and worship bronze-age, middle-eastern deities.

    Its so sad these morons exist in modern times.

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

    Jeez – it's bad enough that religion has taken over politics in this country, now sports too?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:02 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.