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. organically

    Separation of church and government = Democracy

    Separation of church and football = reality

    March 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  2. organically

    Lin and Tebow... a flash in a NY pan

    March 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  3. bigfoot

    God is now a Jet fan and Lord how they need ut.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  4. feline 123

    I am not a football fan, however, I do read the newspapers and watch TV news programs. Mr. Tebow is a decent young man and one to be emulated. He is not siring illigitimate children as so many sports figures have done. I am glad that he was not traded to the Saints and their bounty program. I wish him well and hope that he has a fantastic season with his new team.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  5. solex

    The fact is that Tebow is not a great football player – just an average one.

    That he is a Christian and well spoken does not change that fact. We can judge him as a football player by watching the games, but his religion and personal life are just that – personal.

    Leave the guy alone – he is going tobe just fine.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • pockets

      Since when do you have to 'respect' anyone for their belief in a god or religion. Do you respect people who think Elvis is still alive? Of course not. These people are not elected to any office, the reason is they are nuts, the same as anyone who believes as do 44% of the American public that jesus will return to earth like Superman and save the day, hellooooo people. Grab a brain. No one can prove there is a god, no one. Atheists do not have to prove it, they don't believe in a god, but those who do should be able to prove in the supernatural.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • solex

      Pockets – My brain is just fine thanks – more than large enough to realize that I don't waste time resenting others for their belief systems.

      Resentment is like peeing on yourself – you are the only one who feels it.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • pockets

      This is not about 'resenting' anyone, but not standing quietly by when you hear people ratteling on about some inaginery diety. The US is a country built on ignorance. Have a close look at the Mormon church, you get your own planet when you die.....what nonsense. And children are being brought up to believe in this garbage. Tell it like it is and loud and clear.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  6. Xanderdrax

    He's gonna get eaten alive by the NYC papers.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  7. DC

    Lots of hateful comments on here from cowards hiding behind a computer screen and keyboard. Although I'm not a Tebow fan, I can appreciate that he handles adversity with class and dignity. He does a lot of charitable work too. So what if he openly exprseses his faith? I'd rather see that then athletes running afoul with the law or playing dirty. Good luck to you Mr. Tebow!

    March 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Wait. So to you playing dirty and running afoul of the law is an atheist thing?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Joey

      Cowards like DC

      March 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post is an instance of the circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy.


      March 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      lots of those kind of comments, both believers and non believers

      March 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • pockets

      A question that Belief should be asking is this....... Do you believe that a belief in any religion is a form of metal illness?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • What Now

      Sadly, you make your own point. By the way, the hateful comments are not just coming from the non-believers. I am not a religious person, but do not understand this worshipping a man who is probably a nice guy (unless you know him personally, you really can't say for sure) and just an average QB.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • pockets

      I stand corrected......Do you believe that a belief in any religion is a form of mental illness, not metal, as typed.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Laurie

      @ Hawaii Guest – he said athlete, not atheist.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Wow I must be a lot more tired than I thought. I'm gonna go get a 5 hour energy to hopefully chase away my stupid.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  8. just4liberty

    Not so sure about that preacher: "Remember the Sabath . . . on which you should do Colorado things . . .?"

    March 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  9. mike w

    Timmy's prayers have been answered, Denver is going to the Super Bowl now that they have a QB that can actually pass. Jeebus works in mysterious ways, lol.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  10. Joey

    Of course he can express his religion however he wants too. But we are all free to interpret his motives. Jesus commanded his followers to go into their priviate place to pray. Jesus saw praying on the street corner in public as a way to bring attention to oneself as opposed to God. I think this is Tebow's problem. While he says he's praying because of his devotion, it's more like he is trying to make a name for himself at God's expense. But then Tebow really does need all the help he can get. Maybe God will help him more as he plays for the Jets, not.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • James

      So you think Tebow has calculated the ROI on his charitable givings and time? (ROI = return on investment) Such as, you think he thinks he can make more money if he goes on mission trips that prevent him from training with elite athletes?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  11. American Eagle

    TEBO can take his circus act to NY... Who cares! Let them deal with it! I hope that the "Christians" do not start throwing themselves off the stands at Mile-High because their false prophet is gone....


    March 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Aerin

      they can't help it, they're lemmings

      March 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  12. giggity

    I do not like or watch football, nor share Tebow's faith, but isn't it his right to express his religious beliefs as he wants to

    March 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mike

      Of course it is...and it's our right to make fun of him for being such an oaf about it, as well as a mediocre QB who is not particularly deserving of his fame or his fat paycheck.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Rich

      Not in America; not anymore. If he were Muslim, it'd be fine, though.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • @youignantdotcom

      "Not in America; not anymore. If he were Muslim, it'd be fine, though."

      yeah right Rich. people like you would be lining up on the streets, castrating the guy for his muslim faith, especially after he got traded to NY.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • j

      Christians like Rick that suffer from persecution complexes have to be the most hilarious butt-hurt individuals on the Internet.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  13. Mitchell Moore

    Good riddance.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Dave

    Even Tebow himself has said that God doesn't care who wins a football game, not like most athletes thanking God after a win. I'm an atheist, and neither a Bronco's fan nor a particular fan of Tebow's, although I have nothing against him and he seems like a good kid. Don't hammer on him because religious fans make statements about God being on his side.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Aezel

      That is a logical paradox. He says on one hand that God doesn't care about football, but then he thanks him for a win? So if God didn't have anything to do with him winning, why is he thanking him. Can't have it both ways.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Dave

      I've never heard him actually thank God for a win, which is something you athletes in every sport doing virtually every day, but maybe I've just missed it. My phrasing maybe wasn't the best, either, but the point I was trying to make is that while I'm sure he does thank God, he doesn't believe that God is actually involved in helping him during the game, and I suspect that if we could actually hear his prayers, I don't believe they would be along the lines of "Please let me throw another TD pass or make the other team screw up:" Basically, he's a real Christian, not a poser, and I can respect him for that, even though I don't agree with his beliefs.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Rich

      @ Aezel: "So if God didn't have anything to do with him winning, why is he thanking him. Can't have it both ways."

      He's not; you misread it. He said NOT like other athletes thanking God for a win.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • @youignantdotcom

      "Basically, he's a real Christian, not a poser, and I can respect him for that, even though I don't agree with his beliefs."

      Oh yeah? Do you now Tim Tebow personally? Are you friends?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Paul

    Wake up people THERE IS NO "GOD". IT"S ALL A MYTH! HELLOOOOO??????????

    March 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • JimmyG

      Yeah, seriously – where's your God now you bunch of Tebow freaks?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • ericbrett73

      Whether that is true or not. Faith does give people a lot of comfort and purpose. It is not for you or I to say if there is or isn't a GOD. Tolerance and respect goes a long way for all parties involved. Can't we just agree to disagree?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • mike w

      Better to see the universe as it truly is than to persist in delusion, no matter how comforting, eric.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Aerin

      they can't walk without their crutches

      March 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  16. ChiliOG

    If a player praised Allah or yelled, "Yay Athiesm!" after a good play, you'd hate his guts.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • @youignantdotcom

      oh it already has....google; Husain Abdullah, FS, minnesota vikings. He is muslim and caught much flack for fasting during Ramadan

      March 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  17. gah

    "became to be an internet meme" honestly, cnn keeps getting sloppier and sloppier with their proofreading – perhaps "became an internet meme" or "began to be an internet meme" – "became to be" makes no sense

    March 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. J.R.

    I agree with Aezel. God has NOTHING TO DO with Tebow, Lin or any other athlete who is OVERPAID while there's so many more important things to do in this world. Wake up, people! Your faith is not fact.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Rich

      Nor is your lack of faith.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Kevin

    Meanwhile the Denver football fans are excited to see a 3rd rate QB get the boot.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  20. Aezel

    If you think your pretend person in the sky gives a RAT'S A$S about football while children are starving to death in the world you are the sickest f*** amongst all sick f***s.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Kevin

      Agreed. its a disply of supreme arrogance to think god gave you football talent.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Aerin

      Kevin, its a disply of supreme narcissism to think that your little game means more than starving kids lives.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
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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.