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. DenverMatt

    hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Good riddance!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  2. Godless

    Who cares about someone praying to something that doesn't exist...its embarrassing as a human being that this gets respect.

    Also if he was such a good christian, he wouldn't work on the sabbath

    March 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • The Dude

      Bible says he should be killed for working on the sabbath.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Existence is a die live then die again paradox declared as re-incarnation forever within the dimensions of Cosmological divergencies starting from the smallest cosmos toward the next inline cosmos and beyond,,,,, 🙂

      March 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  3. The Dude

    He is going to NYC.

    He will be snorting coke off h00kers azzes by the end of the year.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • matthouse

      hell yeah!

      March 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • boocat

      Yeah baby!!!

      March 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  4. MJSouth

    Lot's of players pray before the games. Guess no one here has season tickets!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • boocat

      Most of them don't do it knowing the cameras are on them every second......Tebow postures and I find his behaviour specious. He talks about all of his charitable works. Alot of good people do charitable works every day and they don't ask for and don't get an ounce of publicity.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  5. Dave

    Paster Mackey's got his christian priority straight. Work Jesus into a convenient time he's not as important as Denver football. I'm sure Jesus is proud of him.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  6. GeorgeBos95

    Well, the faithful can't ignore this loud and clear message from God – either Manning will be their "SAVIOUR", or they're being punished for some "unholiness" going on over in Denver.

    Or maybe Tebow is being sent on a mission to restore the faith in NYC.

    Lol ... religious silliness always makes me chuckle.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Guest

      well when you apply your own silliness it is quite hilarious because no one is thinking that

      March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Laughingly aloof chuckling is ever the best medicine,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 🙂

      March 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  7. scoobypoo

    What if a Muslim QB prostrates himself to the east in the end zone, praying to Allah?
    Wonder how many Christians would talk about how wonderful it was?
    What? None? Too funny.
    I don't to subscribe to either [or any] faith, but this Tebowing in the end zone is just ridiculous and meaningless.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • GeorgeBos95

      Oh, come one ... Tebow is praying in the end zone because God helped him make the touchdown. We all know that's why Denver won ... er didn't win ... or at least made it into the playoffs ... or ...

      March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • ndc

      Hey Scooby, if a "Muslim" were to take a knee in the endzone of a Broncos game, it's quite possible that no one in the stadium would live to tell about it.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • ndc

      I forgot to ask, would YOU then talk about how wonderful the guy was?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  8. i_know_everything

    this is the funniest headline I've seen in days

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Cobra6

    I guess the almighty creator of the universe will now be directly intervening in the meaningless play-by-play of football games on behalf of the Jets, and abandon the Broncos.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      Well, of course he will.
      What? You think god has time to help out starving children or any of the myriad victims of awful atrocities being committed around the world every single second?
      Oh ye of little faith (guffaw).

      March 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • boocat

      I heard god doesn't think much of Rex Ryan but thinks Aaron Rodgers is an awesome QB and deserved this years MVP.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • St8sman

      No way. Everybody knows that God's a Bears fan.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • boocat

      Nah...I heard god doesn't like NY. He's a Green Bay Packer fan. He was thrilled Aaron Rodgers got the MVP. He told me so.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  10. pat carr

    Front page news? Give me a break.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  11. DC

    It sounds like they traded Tebow because (1) team brass didn't want to be associated with his cultish following and (2) Tebow just isn't that good of a QB.

    Tebow's a nice guy, but he's a lightning rod for controversy too. Sending him to the Jets (who looove controversy) was the best move.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  12. dreamer96

    So one of Mitt Romney's close friends like to buy and sell people...hmmm they did that back before the Civil War too...I thought it was illegal??

    March 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Gloria Kramer


    March 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Joe

    I'm not at all religious... and I don't even watch NFL (college football for me only!)... however, for the first time since high school a couple decades ago, I found myself watching pro ball... because of Tebow.

    All I know is that I haven't seen so much excitement here in Denver ever before he came. Now all that will be lost due to this greedy decision by Elway... who probably can't stand to see another one of his records broken.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Guest

      Manning broke all of Elways records so your argument is erroneous

      March 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • boocat

      Guess that depends who you talk to. My brother lives in Colorado and he and his friends ARE SICK OF HEARING ABOUT TEBOW!!!

      March 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • _Franky_The_Tanky_

      Denverite here... Glad Tebow is gone. He couldn't throw from the pocket, Manning will and still has some years left in that arm. If you were only watching football because of Tebow, you're one of many on the bandwagon and I can't wait to see you leave like Tebow did. Peace!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Doug

      I think your post highlights the exact reason he was traded. Elways job is to win games, not create feel-good stories.

      You claim you were never more excited about the Broncos, but just a decade ago the Broncos won two straight Super Bowls. Your priorities - preferring to cheer for a good person than a good quarterback/team - could certainly be applauded. However, these priorities don't win games. A general manager wants his coach to make personnel decisions based on skill, not personality. Tebow's rabid fans (who, like you, don't really care about winning football games, they just care about Tebow) make that much more difficult.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  15. Grady

    they'll love him in New York...quit prayin' and start playin'!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  16. JiminTX

    The Son of Jesus lacks the skill set to be even an average QB in the NFL. Silly religious zealots, making wishes to their Invisible Sky Friend did not improve Tebow's abysmal completion percentage of around 45%. Out of 100, 45 is an F.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Guest

      Sad that you applied elementary grading toa completion percentage. Peyton Manning only completes 68% of his passes does that mean he only gets a D?

      wow you are dumb

      March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • MJSouth

      Gee, wish we could all be as smart as you..............

      March 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • David

      The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God", (Psalm 14:1).

      March 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • fretlessbass

      You people are in denial! He made it to the playoffs last year. First off, his completion percentage is higher than that if I remember correctly, and you want to dismiss his skill for what reason? Some people are so judgmental against Christians.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  17. boocat

    A poster of Tim Tebow was found in the Saints locker room yesterday with the caption "John Elway, John Elway, why have you forsaken me?"

    March 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • David

      HAHAHAHAHAHA! Good One!

      March 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Camty

    Grow up so-called Christians. Teebow is not the only Christian to ever play in the NFL. Reggie White was a football player and ordained minister for years before he retired and died a few years later. I don't remember Reggie White having the kind of "fans" Tebow has. Probably because Reggie White was African American and all you conservative family Christian values people are racist.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Guest

      Probably because Reggie White wasn't the greatest college football playere of all time. Tebow is arguably the best college football player ever.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Flatsguide

      The thing is that no one knew Reggie White was a minister. So it looks like you are the racist bigo,t Camty.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • SteveO

      Very broad sweep and seems very stereotypical for someone lashing out at others for being racist. I for one admire Reggie White for his faith and as one of the people of your broad net of conservative Christians am not a racist. Have you met every conservative Christian in the entire world? What, sir or ma'am, qualifies you to label all conservative Christians racists.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • boocat

      I was a huge Reggie White fan. He played for my team, the Packers!!!!!

      March 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jen King

      Bingo!!! Perfect point about others being Christian prior to Tebow showing up. Even more spot on w/ the Conservative Family Reseaarch a**holes being racist. Can't wait for a Tebow skeleton to fall out of the 'closet'..

      March 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  19. boocat

    To all of the Christians – pick up your bible and turn to Matthew 6....NOW START READING.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • shouldnotbe

      Start with Leviticus--"You may have male and female slaves, but buy them from the nations around you." .....I want to own a Canadian to shovel my snow-and a Mexican to do the gardening.......good book......horrible QB.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • boocat

      shouldnotbe – good comment......I am by no means "christian" but if these so-called "christians" read Matthew 6, they might understand why people like you and me DO NOT LIKE TIM TEBOW and it is not because of his lack of QB skills.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Stretch

    Ok, so what do all the Tebow fans do with all those jerseys they bought? LOL Anyone have any green dye for sale?

    March 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • fretlessbass

      collector's items (E-bay)

      March 22, 2012 at 10:01 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.