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. erika

    elway is no different than the Irsay clan, last season he swore hi and low that he will keep tebow, look what happened peyton, and you still fell for it

    March 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  2. Brian K

    So if Denver Christians can't root for Tebow anymore, does that mean they have to go back to just solely touching boys?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  3. Goodnews

    A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
    Luke 6:45

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  4. Dan

    The Bronco's making the playoffs wasn't a case of divine intervention. Twelve of forty teams (or 30%) make the playoffs. An 8-8 record and making the playoffs is a bit unusual if you consider that eight teams with an 8-8 record or better didn't make the playoffs. It was less divine intervention than being in the AFC West, which happened to have the most even records of any division in the NFL (Mean 7.75 wins with a SD of .25). One of the three 8-8 teams had to go to the playoffs. I would argue that had Oakland been the one a greater case for divine intervention could be made based on past performance.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  5. JohnK

    Pray harder Tim so you learn how to throw a pass!!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jonny C

      Hilarious!! I would love to see you side by side with Tebow throwing passes and see who looks more like a girl throwing them. I bet he can throw better with his non-throwing hand than you with your dominant one.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • derp

      Wow, I guess I should worship at the Tebow altar because he can throw better than a girl. The fact that every single starting QB in the NFL had a better completion percentage, and passed for more yards per game shouldn't matter at all. Yeah Tebow!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Johnny C

      Oh let's get something straight here. I am NOT a Tebow fan. I know how much he sucks. I was merely putting John down here because he is my good buddy and he's really fat and not athletic in the least. I think it's funny that he is the first to criticize Tebow's passing when the only "throwing" he does is throwing up after eating and drinking too much.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  6. FatAlbert

    All the negative comments... Why does everyone care so much about everyone else? It's not like the guy is harming other people or sticking a gun to their head, demanding they follow Jesus Christ.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Bob

      No, it's just that many people are sick and tired of religion being promoted so much but never delivering on its promises.

      This Tebow guy and his silly Teblowing are just one more instance of that, so don't be so surprised at the response after he lost big time despite all his praying and all the hoopla about it, but hasn't really been taken to task on that much.

      Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of religion in 2012.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  7. DeeBee

    Denver sports fans love it when athletes express their deeply held religious beliefs. Unless your name is Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Brian K

      Wow that's one hell of a reference you just pulled out of your hat!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • humanbean

      Dang!!! That burns!

      March 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  8. sam

    Now they'll have to find another "public-praying" hypocrite.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  9. Diest

    Tebow is not a QB. He might make it as a H Back, but all the prayers in the world will never make him a real QB with the chicken wing left arm he has.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  10. Bob

    Yes, because running around trying to knock other people on their asses in pursuit of fame and fortune is so in line with christian values...

    March 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      No but running around in diapers looking like Jesus is. I like to hold parties and have people dress up in diapers and we walk around "zapping" the Holy Spirit into them. It is so cute when they fall down shaking in the spirit. We do some role playing in wheel chairs and then after being zapped...we can walk.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Bob Too

      Yeah Bob, I'm sure that's why Tebow plays football...for the fame and fortune. Tebow has already given back so much more than you ever will in your lifetime.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm not that Bob, but seriously, what has Tebow given back? He recently was cited for being pretty nasty to a war vet/amputee when he thought he was off-camera.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Brian K

      touching boys is a christian value, I think they're just fine with a little bump n grind on the gridiron

      March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Bob Too

      Well he gave the Patriots back a chance at winning the Super Bowl again, but they blew it...again!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Bob

      History sure shows that to be true.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bob

      I thought he was the one Teblowing the team.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • IfOnly

      Yeah, now if only I can make sense of that farcical notion that of all of the suffering and poverty and death going on in the world, Tebow was chosen by God to get rich throwing a ball around and then meter out SOME of his wealth as charity. God is so great he blesses Tebow for doing nothing more than being born, Tebow is God's representative and delivers the greatness of God through the what, 1 or 2% of his wealth he gives to charity. Wow, who knew God was so great? He works in stupid ways.

      It doesn't matter how much any of us gave as long as you, him and the rest of the Christians believe that arrogant nonsense, that the creator of the universe is helping someone with their football. That the creator of the universe sits by idly, does nothing about the suffering, death and anguish occurring all over the world like in Syria, instead he bestows massive wealth to arrogant Tebow so that Tebow can donate a small percentage of it to groups he chooses to. To Muslims? Never that.

      Tebow was interviewed and he actually implied that God was helping him with the game. Read that again and tell me there's nothing wrong there with a straight face, joker.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Bob

      So many Bob's, so much of the time.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  11. blake

    just another jesus freak moron....he is not that good and obviously not that smart....if you want to believe in mythology and fairy tales go ahead but if you are going to publicize your ignorance all the time I am definitely going to ridicule your lack of intellect...he is just more media hype, he is not that good of a quarterback, and in 3 years he will be a commentator on fox "news" and the christian broadcast network....silly rabbits....

    March 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • JK


      I'd take a good look in the mirror if I were you.....

      March 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Rob

      That's cool you have your own beliefs. I myself don't believe in God but at least I am not a jerk about it. Why do you feel the need to ridicule someone else for their beliefs? You can't prove any more that God doesn't exist than anyone else that he does. So really, intellect is not the issue here. Just saying, no need to be a jerk.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • derp

      "You can't prove any more that God doesn't exist than anyone else that he does"

      That is why I pray to a unicorn riding zombie sasquatch from atlantis.

      He exists because my old book about zombie sasquatch's says he does.

      You can't prove he doesn't exist any more than I can prove he does.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • IfOnly

      I believe in a God made of dingleberries shrouded in left over hair from eight hours worth of hair cuts from a hair salon in downtown Detroit. The best part about it is that I KNOW IT'S TRUE because my uncle's friend's brother's sister's cousin's father in law said he saw it walk out of a hair salon once with a golden glow around it and he smelled it.

      Now if I told anyone that, they would say I'm insane for believing it, it must be a joke. Fair enough, but the religious are no better. Their holy texts say that the laws of nature, the very laws everyone here and their ancestors have lived their lives by and the laws that govern Tebow's silly game (what goes up must come down), were suspended in favor of miracles. So let's believe the holy texts right? Err wait, isn't that like believing a story told from someone that heard it from someone who heard it from someone, ad infinitum? Did anyone who believes this nonsense witness it firsthand? But you're seriously willing to suspend the laws of nature over that?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  12. Nate

    Well a lot of evengelicals think God supports the USA over other countries, so why would they not think He supports a certain team. Their veiw on God is skewed.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  13. Mukk Rakker

    >Denver was 1-4 when he took over from KO. They finished 8-8. Do the math.

    Ahhhh, wait, I got it... 3 and 0 ? – do I get a cookie?

    March 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • blake

      maybe his imaginary friend in the sky flew down and sprayed magic dust on him....

      March 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  14. just sayin

    I like dressing up like Jesus and put diapers on. Then I prayer and wait for him to talk to me. When I hear his voice I start dancing and raising my hands while yelling, "Praise Jesus!"

    March 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Joel Osteen...is that you?

      March 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      No but he is truly a man of God...bless him and his billions.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • GodPot

      Don't forget to hold a sign that says "Judgement day is here!! Show me your tlt's and I'll judge them!!"

      March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Mukk Rakker

    >Denver Christians mourn Tebow’s departure...

    That's so sad, I didn't know he was dead...

    March 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  16. rosethornne

    I don't caaaaaaaaare what tebow does. Except when he whines on about his fairy tales – then I care, and not in a good way.

    Why, exactly, does the imaginary sky fairy listen to the supplications of one sport team over another again? I keep forgetting the logic behind that.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  17. Don

    God looks at football as a few steps back in evolution.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • just sayin

      Just look at the average football fan and there is evidence of that. Sports was designed to entertain the "slower" folk in our society. The construction workers, garbage workers, grass cutters and hole diggers and so on. Sports like football are truly for the mindless in our society. Nascar is another one but you really can't call merry go round racing a sport.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bob

      Religion is definitely only for the "slower folks in our society".

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of religion in 2012.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  18. geeky

    If he wants to pray before every game, he can certainly do so without making such a big production of it. Maybe it's something he used to do in private, but now that the public has caught onto it and actually named it "Tebowing", I think it's more for show. Does he really think God really cares who wins the game?

    March 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Erik Johnson

      Why do you care? Does it really offend you so much? If he wants to shoot fireworks in the air and do a back flip, have at it. There are people who genuinely put their faith above front and center where they are. I am trying to figure out why that has any effect on you.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • IfOnly

      And why do you care that he cares? Listen dummy, he's allowed to have an opinion. Unless you're seriously taking the stance that Tebow can go out and look like an idiot but he's not allowed to talk about it.

      Apparently it's fine to backflip and shoot fireworks but it's not alright to talk about a sports figure amirite? Oh wait that makes NO SENSE. Do you know why? Because you're just trying to stifle him.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  19. rickwh

    "Denver doesn't need two star quarterbacks" – What a line. Tebow is not a star quarterback and never was. He might be a good Christian, but he is a only mediocre quarterback. He lost more games than he won so what makes him a star quarterback? And do Christians really believe that their god will support a football team? Don't you Christians think that all the other teams think god is on their side as well? I can't believe what you people expect from your god – to me you're all fools. Now all of you Colorado (Denver) Christians will have to "assume the position" and pray for the Jets because clearly god will transfer his Tebow loyalty to the Jets since Tebow is such a great Christian. What a bunch of morons.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Erik Johnson

      Denver was 1-4 when he took over from KO. They finished 8-8. Do the math.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • KurtL

      I think you're the moron...you don't even know that Tebow went 8-5 as the starter. Maybe you should know what you're talking about before you say something.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Paden

      Its not that we are saying he doesnt have work to do on his throwing game. We are just saying he is a winner. Statisically. He is over 0.500

      March 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • derp

      "I think you're the moron...you don't even know that Tebow went 8-5 as the starter. Maybe you should know what you're talking about before you say something"

      He's actually 10-8 as a starter.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    Why are there so many people who just assume Tebow's a DBAG who hasn't "gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar?" Why can't we just believe he's a good guy with morals?

    March 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • IfOnly

      Where does morals come into play? Why would you even link that word to Tebow? What do you know about Tebow's life? How do you know where his morality lies? You know what the public knows, that he gets on a knee and also gives to charity. There's no proof anywhere that he leads a moral lifestyle, nor is morality something specially associated with religion, you imply as much by bringing morality up.

      As we've seen from the child raping priests and the overwhelming majority of the prison population identifying themselves as religious, there's no relationship between morality and religion at all. Go ask the mafia too and the catholics and their policy of treating everyone like crap for six days of the week only to have a clean slate with God on the seventh day. There's no relationship between Tebow getting on a knee and leading a moral life. Ask a proper question next time.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:01 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.