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. ZAvs

    "The Broncos don’t need two star quarterbacks"? Where is the the second one......... And doesn't the Bible say you shall not idolize anybody but God (or something like that)? Hypocrites. I am loving that he gone – I guess that makes me evil.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  2. Ryan M.

    This is the kind of story that CNN does best: A meaningless reactionary piece meant to rile up emotions, when really the story being reported upon is of almost zero relevance. Keep up the good work, liberal robots.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • ZAvs

      So it is OK for you to spew your Conservative beliefs, but when Liberals do it they are robots? Typical. And really, all of this over a slab of meat, terribly sub-par football player? Guess you have your priorities in line.....

      March 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  3. Jim

    In a world so full of hate and terror it is good to see someone like Tim Tebow come along and express his beliefs without fear of the world judging him. His acts of kindness towards those less fortunate make many people respect him for who he is. His popularity and celebrity type status magnifies the good deeds he has done. No he is not perfect, none of us are. But because of his outward expression of faith he will be expected to be perfect and as soon as he does something wrong people will be ready to pounce on their prey. Too bad there aren't more like him, willing to be different and knowing that normal isn't working.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Martin

      LOL...the Philipino boys who got their genitals trimmed by Tim don't think he's so kind...he's a theistic nut case...

      March 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  4. DJ

    Mourning? Why? Is he taking Jesus with him?

    March 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Tallulah


      March 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Ryan

      HA nice!
      I'm sure to some degree, the mourning is in reaction to having a guy that made such positive impact on the community go to another community...
      But, you're right; hopefully they got some Jesus for themselves! Lol

      March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  5. Andy

    He seems like a genuine, great guy. But, he sucks at QB. I wish him the best of luck running the wildcat for the rest of his career.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Jan

      Andy you may say he's a bad QB but the other players are also at fault – they can't catch a ball! Good grief isn't that the whole point of playing FB is to be able to catch a football? Not all the blame lays on Tebow sorry!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  6. tom-ay

    um... can't Colroado Christian love surpass state-lines? Guess you cannot idolize someone if they leave the state in christianity... espeically if they play football. its abomination.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  7. Leucadia Bob


    March 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  8. blaqb0x

    Speaking of TeBow, I know if's illegal for NFL coaches to set bounty on taking out players but, is it illegal for fans to set one?

    March 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  9. DRock76

    I'm always amazed how the athiests swarm the discussions on cnn regarding any article on Christians or Tebow. Why do they care what Christians or any other religion believes? Can't they just go on living their meaningless lives with no hope or morality?

    March 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • blaqb0x

      We love a good freak show!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Perhaps it is because of the obnoxious religoius zealots so prevalent in the political news on the right wing? You don't have to look for religion to pick on....it's thrown in your face every day by tyhe likes of Santorum, etc.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Lillith

      You're confusing being a believer with morality .. every atheist I know has more genuine morality than any christian I know. Also, we atheists actually have meaning in our lives .. we're not just waiting to die for our reward. We know this is our only life & we make it mean something, unlike followers who are sqandering it.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • papisto

      Thank you so much

      March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Why do you ignorantly equate religiosity with morality? Preists abuse boys. A lot of non-religious people live highly moral and ethical lives in a secular fashion.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • papisto

      my thank you is for you DRock76

      March 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • leonid7

      It's difficult not to care what members of an evangelical faith think, as it is their mission to convert others and spread their faith.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Mike

      My thank you is to Lillith. Well said.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • jaketinback

      @ Lillith...And just exactly how many Christians do you know? Several Hundreds Im sure. LOL

      March 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Tallulah

      If a Muslim player thanked Allah after every game, ended every interview with "praise Allah," would we afford him the same respect we give Tebow?

      March 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • nookster

      Maybe its because they have had insane religious dogma rammed down their throats by equally insane religous zealots their entire lifes.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Bible just a theory

      Tens of thousands of preachers every Sunday INSULT NON-BELIEVERS by claiming that they're bad and will go to hell. You don't have thousands of doctors, scientists, and science teachers standing up in conferences and classrooms deliberately insulting Christians.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • kobols.harper

      Oh, how ignorant thou art my child.

      Religion does not hold a monopoly on ethics and morality. In fact, atheists might be considered more genuine in terms of morality since their code of ethics doesn't rely on fear of punishment such as eternal damnation. Here are just a few methods of determining morality apart from God(s): utilitarianism, kantian, virtue ethics.

      Oh, and I'm a Christian.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Jan

      I was brought up Catholic, now I am a non-believer. My husband is an Atheist and he has more morality in his pinky than any Christians I have known. Don't get me started on the whole hypocrisy of the Catholic church! It doesn't have any morals moving abusing molesters from parish to parish. Disgusting! And they will rue the day they let Tebow go – good on you NY Jets for getting Tebow – Manning is just a few injuries short of ending his career!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Tallulah – If you call the attention that Tebow is receiving on this blog respect, then yes, a Muslim player should receive the same. It's only fair right?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  10. cynic

    How anyone with a shred of compassion in their heart can bring themselves to play in a league where bonuses are handed out for your ability maim other players is beyond me.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  11. leonid7

    To all the the saddened and vehement supporters of Tebow who think that anyone that mentions he is a sub-par QB or is flaunting his religion is somehow an anti-Christian Tebow hater, consider hist stats and your own holy book, namely Matthew 6:5: When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

    It seems that many who are critical are more in touch with Christianity than so many of Tebow's "Christian" supporters.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • jaketinback

      Yes its always good to cherrypick scripture and take it out of context. Try reading the entire book sometime.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Tallulah

      Jaketinback how is it 'cherry picking' when the very next verse says Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Alan Johnson

      This is an excellent piece of scripture and is not taken out of context. The Bible is repeat with examples that what we do is the important thing in our faith, not what we proclaim. And yes, I have read and studied the entire book, several times. People have interest in football and its players. God loves the players but doesn't care who wins, no matter how many public demonstrations of faith are made. That said, I think young Tebow is trying to live his faith as well as proclaim it. He appeared recently here, in Missoula, to raise money for a good cause. In terms of ability and experience, Manning is clearly superior to Tebow now and is a good choice for the Broncos. Tebow has a lot of athletic ability and potential and I believe he will develop into a great quarterback. As for those who argue about faith, it is not up to us to judge the quality of anyone's faith or morality. We were not put on earth to confess the other person's sins.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • leonid7

      I have also read the book many times as I was brought up Baptist and studied theology in college. It is not taken out of context as the first verse says plainly don't practice your righteousness in front of others, the next verse going on to say don't announce your good works and so on.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  12. Evan

    God bless you, Rob, sir_ken_g and fake Tim Tebow...

    You see through a glass lit dimly... and God understands....

    March 22, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  13. dave

    Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • fairyinthesky

      Yes, such a show-off. That is why I left everything religion of that sort. Now I worship my pet frog.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • dave

      brilliant – if I don't like one member the whole thing is no good

      I saw on TV that a teacher abused a student - therefore I no longer believe in knowledge

      March 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Martin

      yep, Tim's a phoney...he is headed for one more concussion, career ending wreck,...his god didn't stop the first brain trauma, and won't the next...."prayer: doing nothing thinking you're helping"

      March 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  14. Bible just a theory

    YES! Jesus, I'm sure, APPROVES of this super violent game played in stadiums that 1) are the successors to the Roman coliseums 2) have scantily-clad and silicon enhanced females prancing around as cheerleads 3) that have bottomless taps of beer and other stronger stuff in the clubs 4) have frequent occurrances of devastating injuries to players 5) are awash in illegal drugs to enhance athletic performance. If Jesus comes again, I'm sure the first thing he'll do is buy season tickets to the Jets!

    March 22, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • fleeMAN

      You're extremely dramatic. There has always been sport and if Jesus is up there I don't think he's looking down on people playing this "violent game." STOP being such a weenie and live a little

      March 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  15. William Demuth

    Jersey folks will be pelting him with batteries if he fails to perform.

    Jesus dosen't win and they crucify him again.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  16. JEV1A

    "I really believe that this man was not put here on earth to throw touchdown passes! He should quit the NFL, join a Seminary and continue his Missionary work he started at The University of Florida. His passion for life and to save others is completley contrary to the game he plays. Now in New York, he will be a model for both good and evil and the Marketing by the J.E.T.S. will be used to sell tickets no matter if he plays or not. Its a shame a young man like this can be taken advantage of and as they did in Denver to sell jersey's and tickets as well. He is clearly not NFL Quarterback material and everyone knows it.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Martin

      Tebow is a fundamentalist who mutilates young Philipino boys genitals...he needs to stop the mutilation and go into his closet it he wants to pray to his god

      March 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Lillith

      I tend to agree he may not have been put here to be a QB .. but your asertion he will be "taken advantage of" is rediculous .. HE is a willing participant not a victim, or "martyr" as you are implying.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • nookster

      Taken advantage of? Tebows making millions! Please, take advantage of me like that!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  17. Send him to the Lions!!!! New York Fans that is.....

    Just wait till Little Timmy Tebow makes some really boneheaded plays in JETS land.....those fans will tear him to shreads just like the early Christians thrown to the LIONS in the Roman Colleseum.....sure won't break my heart......I personally think he is a fake and a showboat........here let me find a television camera....hey look at me I am kneeling and praying – did you get a good shot of that.....did you get my good side????????

    March 22, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  18. Rob

    Aw, poor Christians. God doesn't like you enough to keep T-Bone there I guess. Maybe it's because he sees the hypocrisy of your religion.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  19. sir_ken_g

    Good rid.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  20. Tim Tebow

    God hath judged me and punished me by expelling my soul to hell. AKA The Jets. AKA New Jersey.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:50 am |
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About this blog

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.