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. Kristi Novac

    Elway apparently has forgotten that he was once a struggling, but brilliant, young QB....I will still follow the Broncs, but am sorely disappointed in them. Looks like I have a new team to root for....Tebow's Jets!!! 🙂

    March 22, 2012 at 5:50 am |
  2. Gene

    Are you kidding me??? I am sure that there are a lot of other QBs who are Christian! Perhaps even Payton? So, why does Tebow get such special recognition from the religous sector??? Denver should be glad that they got a real QB and not one of the bottom rated (5th lowest) QBs in the league last year! And I am guessing that God really doesn't have a favorite football team, so when Tebow prays and they win, I doubt it was from devine intervention!

    March 22, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • Science

      So do facts.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:56 am |
    • Jesus

      ~You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!~~

      March 22, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • God

      I gave you brains to be able to reason. What the hell happened? I'll try harder next time.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  4. Jim

    Matthew 6:5 Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

    (modern addition to 6:5 "...on street corners and in football stadiums...")

    March 22, 2012 at 3:37 am |
  5. Jeff

    I can't wait until "Christians" realize that they shouldn't project their private faith and spiritual beliefs onto EVERYTHING that has NOTHING to do with religion... sports, politics, music, etc etc. It is lowering religion's role in society and becoming ridiculously over-worn.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • Shane

      Religion's "role" in society was lowered long ago. Anyone who still believes in these fables these days seriously needs some help.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • joe

      lol this is just like south park. Prais jesus and may the denver broncos win the super bowl. Smh rednecks. half of this country is as nutty as the people living in the middle east

      March 22, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • guest

      Joe: Amen!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:27 am |
  6. TexInd

    OMG, a pastor of a church actually saying how much sorrow it is to his flock that an NFL player has been traded? LOL. let me understand this correctly. Not one world about maybe they injured and death of American military or maybe even the death of Jesus? Does anyone wonder why Christian churches are losing members by the dozens each week?

    March 22, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  7. Joseph

    What's the big deal about Tebow? 'Cause he prayed to thank God that Bronco wins? So when Bronco lost because God didn't listen to his prayer? God must be CRAZY!!! haha

    March 22, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  8. opinionguru

    Goodbye Tim ... We will follow you no matter which team you play for. You are much bigger than the sport of football.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • Shane

      Shut up, you robot.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • George

      Shane: So glad to see you're an ardent supporter of freedom of speech ... so long as the speech doesn't disagree with yours. Perhaps you should try tebowing; that way someone can kick your brains back up between your shoulders.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Kellyeck

      Totally agree!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:57 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      no one is bigger than the sport.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  9. tallulah13

    I'm a Peyton Manning fan, so I'm glad the Broncos picked him up after the Colts dumped him. Even if he's not 100%, his leadership will serve the Broncos, and he can mentor the young Denver QBs.

    I'm sure Tebow will make a fine back-up QB in New York.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • fred

      eh Tallulah13
      Finally we are the same team. I will be rooten for Payton this year. If you don't mind I will pray that Denver gives him a strong front line so he does not get beat up like Tebow

      March 22, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • tallulah13

      Pretty amazing, fred, that we agree on something. I hope that the Broncos put up a strong offensive line, too. I'd hate to see Manning (or anyone, really) get hurt again.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Shane

      You guys are all dreaming... Denver's going down.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  10. Lisa

    My favorite team which I follow religiously (no pun intended) is the University of Michigan but I definitely watched Tebow when he was in FL. Great fun to watch and he seems like a swell guy. Never was a Bronco's fan as that stupid Elway beat my Browns too many times but I watched them when they were televised here in CA because I just like Tebow. Good for him for the goosebumps he gave Broncos fans last year. I never thought that he was praying to God to help him win football games. He is too much of a class act. I think that his devout faith just keeps him grounded in his work-ethic and his life. He sure has let a lot of the Tebowmania roll off his back unlike other sports stars who had their heads swell to the size of Alaska as soon as they got famous and rich. Tebow will never be seen in a strip bar or shooting himself in the leg in a strip bar, thank Heavens, what a distraction that is and who needs it. Not crazy about the Jets but if I can catch a game or two I will watch for Tebow. He has handled everything so magnanimously.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Shane

      I just threw up a little in mouth.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  11. Bryan

    Now Bronco fans can cheer for two crappy teams....the Broncos and the Jets....can't wait to see how the little choir boy likes hanging with Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Jeff

      The Broncos will surely beat your team, pal. You want to doubt Peyton Manning? How about Von Miller, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year HAMMERS your QB and decimates your front line.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:21 am |
    • Shane

      Get over yourself, Jeff... It's just a damn game.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:30 am |
  12. Best is MY name

    GOD stays hidden, his eye like a spy camera watching all your moves-the best way to see what youre really like. each person sealing their own fate. all i can say is...I CANT WAIT! As for the fools who doubt the intelligence of the creator-research gematria; research all forms of science & mathematics-the finger prints are everywhere, yet so many just never see.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • PopeJohn

      Thought Christians where supposed to mourn those who are lost?

      March 22, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • mikehunt

      Like what "proof" do you have?

      March 22, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • steve zaan

      I only doubt the intelligence of the "christians" who doubt science.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Brandon Comer

      You preach about people who study science and math "not seeing", while typing out your message on a keyboard, on a computer, connected to the internet... where people all over the world can communicate near instantaneously. That is a product of science and math. Feel free to crawl back into the dark ages and worship your hidden God, we no longer have a use for you or him.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Prometheus

      There's a syringe of Thorazine waiting for you and a nice soft bed in a totally padded room. There are a few basic facts in life: there is no god; everyone dies on a permanent basis; and you are a psychotic moron if you believe any of the nonsense you spew. Get help! Soon.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • matt

      you really are a clown!

      March 22, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  13. PopeJohn

    Matthew 6:5
    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

    Or 50 yard lines with 10 million views at home..........

    March 22, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Ridiculous


      Empty words uttered by empty people. Pray away. Do nothing.

      People who pray don't amount to anything anyways.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • paul

      Like Dr. Martin Luther King. I would say he prayed and much was accomplished.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Jim

      Note to self: Read other posts first and then post yourself.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • HB


      Try reading the post again and then you won't look so unintelligent.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:54 am |
  14. tina

    Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

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

      I recommend the same for masturbation.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  15. tina

    Sooooooooooo Tebow wins games because he prays?????

    March 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  16. kevinjames

    Denver Fans prayers for a chance at the Superbowl have been answered........Tebow left and Manning arrived.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  17. scrappydo

    Can't wait for all teh "christians" to go nuts, call it "evil" when in the middle of a game

    a Muslim player to get down, face Mecca and pray after a TD, a Druid to throw acorns and pine needles to fans after a sack, a follower of Buddha to start doing yoga after an INT, a follower of Thor to pull out a big hammer and hit the ground after a PAT, and on it goes.......

    March 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  18. Jack

    Yea, right, God really cared about a football game. All you tebow bandwagon christian followers, what about the parents praying for their child with cancer, the Christian in Syria praying to live another day, the wife of a drug user praying for his recovery? Do you really think God cares one bit about a football game??? Do you think tebow praying to God to make a pass or avoid a tackle seems a bit selfish and egocentric when others are praying for matters of life and death???????

    Only problem with Jesus is all the christians that get in the way.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Ridiculous

      Christians don't care about the world – they only care that they get to express their stupid religion center stage for everyone to hear.

      When you tell them to shut the h.e.l.l. up they get bothered. Silly twits.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • DCfromCT

      It's amazing how much stupid and hateful comments about a guy who is one of the few class acts in sports. Unlike the media and nay sayers who only took notice of Tebow when they started winning. There are lots of professing Christians in the NFL, Mike Singletary, Reggie White, Tony Dungy, how come they don;t get the same flack. What Tebow does off the field is more impressive than the 4th Qtr heroics. He's been helping others and bringing people to the games even before he got the starting role. Like me or not, He took the broncos from the cellar to the playoffs. I think this will blowup in Elways face putting all their eggs in one basket with Manning. One good hit and he's done. Who is his back up gonna be.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      "Like me or not, He took the broncos from the cellar to the playoffs."

      Wow you never watched on game last season did you? 46% completions, worst QB rating in the league, cant throw a spiral for his life and you think it was all him? The broncos were LAST in passing. Last time I checked, QBs THROW the ball in the NFL.....like the game he only had 10 PASSING ATTEMPTS against San Diego, or 8 PASSING ATTEMPTS against a dogc.....rap KC Chiefs team. I guess his defense and Kicker had nothing to do with winning those games. SMH.....#youignant

      March 22, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  19. David Crosby

    Wouldn't it be great if Tebow took a few hundred thousand Christians with him back to the East Coast....Save Colorado a ton of brain damage in the future...

    March 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Joe

      You're a moron.

      March 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Bryan

      No thanks....you can keep them out there...we are fine back here.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  20. Bear

    Tebow did great things for Denver and the Broncos last year. I think the most dissapointing thing is that both Elway and coach Fox promissed and gave their word that Tebow would be the starter for 2012. They clearly went against their word which shows the weak character of the Broncos organization.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      He did "great things" for Denver and the Broncos? Like his:
      * 47.3% completion percentage (making him one of the worst passers in NFL history).
      * The Broncos 8-8 season (coupled to a defense that was holding teams to an average of only 13 points per game and still could only win 8– tells you how bad the Broncos were on the offensive side of the ball).

      March 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • @youignantdotcom

      Football is a business not a preschool daycare center where everyone gets coddled and their hands held.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:22 am |
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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.