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. George Washington

    Just shows how much God hates Christians in Denver!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  2. Mike Scott

    The right-wing nuts will probably try to sue the Broncos for religious discrimination. That's what they always do.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • ndc

      Statistically speaking, religious discrimination suits come from those professing religions OTHER than Christianity at a ratio of 100:1. It's also funny how virtually all Christian-hating leftists denigrate the supposed idiocy of the Christians' unenlightened and ignorant belief in God and Jesus, yet never impugn the beliefs held by Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Scientologists, etc. I would also point out to the "enlightened" atheists and progressives that your Messiah–Barrack Obama–claims to be a Christian and recently expressed that his tax policies are consistent with what Jesus would do. Now, help me out on this–how can someone who is such a progressive genius believe in a "sky fairy" and his "made up" son? Why don't you make fun of your Messiah for being a stupid, uneduated flat-earther?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  3. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I guess now the evangelists will say that this was God's plan because New York needs salvation from sin, and he has chosen Tim Tebow as his messiah for the mission.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Jeb

      If he has "God" on his side, you would think that "God" would make him a better player.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  4. leonid7

    I wonder how Manning must feel since he isn't Christian enough.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  5. blondie

    I TOLD you Jesus was gay.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  6. David

    I don't care WHAT religion he is. He will NEVER be a good NFL QB, let alone a great one. Period!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  7. Jeb

    Tebow's actual job was to be a professional NFL quarterback. He wasn't very good at his job so he got traded.

    With all that praying he was doing, did he forget to ask "God" to make him a better player? Evidently "God" was as tired of Tebow's showboating as we are.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  8. Not All Docs Play Golf

    This is crazy. Everyone knows that God is really a Notre Dame guy.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Karaya

    God fights on the side with the best artillery – and plays for the team with the best quarterback. So how about a little less religious zeal and little more complete passes on the field?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  10. mm

    How's that prayer working for you now, Tim?
    Seems someone/something wasn't listening.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  11. DN

    This article is just sad. There are people in our country who can be completely incompetent at their job, but if they are devout Christians, they'll still have support. I wonder if a QB who was better than Manning and Brady put together would be booed if he was an atheist?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • JakeAZ

      he would be if he was in everybody's face about it..and he would deserve it. i'm an atheist, i have no problem with people believing whatever they want, praying after games...ect...

      just don't shove it down our throats...ugh i hate that.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • UncleM

      @DN writes "just don't shove [atheism] down our throats...ugh i hate that."

      What do you think religion (especially christianity) does every day?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

    There are a lot of Christians playing football – like someone said, Manning is one, Drew Breese is one, David Tyree, Shaun Alexander, and on and on and on. As one myself I have HUGE problem with Tebow and NO problem with anyone else – what?? He wears his religion on his sleeve. Maybe if you stopped shoving your religious beliefs down our throats, you would play QB better. JUST PLAY – and be good example, but keep your mouth zipped. He is too syrupy for New York, they are going to eat him alive.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Ryan

      Why do people keep using the phrase "shoving religious beliefs down our throats" when talking about Tebow. I don't recall him having a TV special or a rally, or even a story about him walking up to someone and telling them to believe in his religion.

      How exactly did he do this "shoving?" To me, all he did was openly say he's a Christian...never said you have to be one. He knelt on the sideline, which players have been doing for YEARS... and when asked a question about his faith, he answered.
      So why the uproar? What real problem do you have with Tebow?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Ryan..it is not Tebow himself that is necessarily shoving it...it's all the Tebowists.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • BRW11

      You my friend have a problem with him being SALT & LIGHT.... If you were one (and I hope you are) you would celebrate the fact that the name of the Lord Jesus is being spread rapidly in places where it has not shined as brightly in the past. So what do you say when people turn to Christ as a result of this? To shut down his Christianity or dumb it down b/c it offends you (another 'Christian')... sounds pretty silly.

      Read again about how we are to live lives as Christians and how we are to DO the Great Commission...

      March 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  13. leonid7

    And I personally am not judging Tebow's faith, merely the outward expression of it through biblical metrics, which, if you put it out there like that, it's up for grabs.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  14. Judy

    Christians would love to have a theocracy in the usa

    March 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  15. conoclast

    Let's see how Timmy's pathetic little Jesus-theater plays in NYC, hmm?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  16. jets fan

    anything is better than Mark Sanchez

    March 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  17. Glades2

    In the case of someone like Tebow, he's already proven his Christian maturity by not being ashamed of his faith, despite all the criticsm, and perhaps that's why he was chosen by God to move on to a bigger venue like the New York City area – as the Bible says, more is expected of those who have been given more...

    March 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • oh boy

      "perhaps that's why he was chosen by God"

      So, how do you know this happened. You can read God's mind?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • JakeAZ

      you actually believe god plays that active of a role in the world enough to move a football player, yet he/she/it allows for so much suffering?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Jeb

      He should ask "God" to make him a better player so that he wouldn't get traded.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • MN

      "You can read God's mind?"

      I'm sure they think they understand it. Better than the rest of, obviously.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • BRW11

      YES, God chooses ALL OF US... Many choose him back and the others stand outside looking in why we love him and live for him so. It's time to wake up, time is short and none of us will have an excuse. Just to think, God placed Tebow in front of you on Sunday's to tell you that he loves and still desires you and you continue to put your head in the sand and pretend He is not real.

      The Bible clearly states what's on God's mind like you and I. A book on redemptive love throughout. Oh yeah, that pain and suffering that clearly continues to happen as a result of SIN. Man is evil at heart and we see it daily. Please wake up and know that God desires you to live for him as well my friends.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  18. David

    Oh my goodness. There are plenty of Christians other than Tebow in the NFL. Is mourn the right word? Should this even be discussed as a serious topic anywhere? But even if that's a "yes" is the fact that it was discussed worth a story on the news site?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Arthur Paliden

    Santorum/Tebow 2012

    March 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Victor

      That can't happen. Tim won't be 35 years old by Jan 20th 2013.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  20. michael

    I hear Michelle Bachman, Senator, and "would be candidate for the office of the president" can change gays into straights. I suppose that's like a Catholic Priest being able to change wine and bread into the blood and flesh of Jesus for consumption by the Church's canibals. Perhaps this T-Bow guy can seek help from Michelle in converting him from the religious idiot that he is into just a normal man with good values. Put another way "where is his Gawd?"

    These people are a sickness in America. THEY are the ones that will destroy society, not Gays.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • dave

      next time you are jking off and choking yourself - go all the way

      March 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Ryan

      And Tebow is an idiot and the 'sickness in America' because he... helps others in need? Or because he starts/donates heavily to charities? Or because he visits and helps sick people... Oh I get it, wait; it's because he kneels and prays...
      Gah that idiot... destroying our society with his nice deeds and care for others

      March 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • @youignantdotcom

      "next time you are jking off and choking yourself – go all the way"

      wow very christian of you....not that I'm surprised. your "holy book" is littered with violence.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Mike

      Hold on... Tebow already IS "a normal man with good values". I don't share his faith, but man, don't dump on him for being a "religious idiot". He seems like a genuinely good guy who is simply very overt in the practice of his faith. Not once have I heard him descend into the muck of religious bigotry, despite his obviously strong Christian beliefs. I'm no admirer of his public religious practice but aside from that I can't see any reason to criticize him. He's just a guy out there trying to make his way in pro football the best he can, and he uses his fame and influence for good causes (or so the stories tell us). There's no reason to dump on him. Wouldn't surprise me if his new Jets teammates and his new coach were singing his praises by the end of training camp.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • CP in FL

      Michelle (The Crazy One) Bachman is not a US Senator, she is a member of the House.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:23 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.