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. Sasquatch219

    You know, there are Christians on all NFL teams. Denver Christians are acting like he is the only one to have ever played the game. I am sure there are plenty of other Christians on the Broncos as well.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • cykill

      yeah, but they didn't "Tebow" now did they...they must not love god as much

      March 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  2. John P

    I'm sure Tim Tebow is a nice person, but it all boils down who the better player is. Tebow throwing motion is seriously flawed and Denver seized the chance in getting Peyton one of the NFL's best Quarterbacks of all time.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  3. mfx3

    This to me is a simple case of replacing God with an idol. Period.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Hmm...

      Tebow's a God, eh? I guess blaspheming is a lot better than idol worshiping. Never mind that he plays a sport that's almost exclusively only played on the sabbath. Just sayin'.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  4. Indyswimmer66

    "Two" star quarterbacks? Manning... and who's the other?

    March 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • PublicCries

      Last year we never even had ONE quarterback let alone two.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  5. James Robinson

    Why not Tim Tebow to bears, they could sure use the help

    March 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      Sure, If he can play Offensive Line, sign him up

      March 22, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • derp

      Because the Bears aren't stupid enough to waste a 4 and a 6 round pick and a couple million dollars on guy that every GM in he NFL knows cannot play quarterback.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  6. John

    Hey "PREACH' ! Put the "PIPE" down. Wow!

    March 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  7. John

    Hypocrite's exploiting the good LORD, shameful.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  8. preach

    Atheism –

    “The Belief that there was nothing, and nothing happened to nothing, and then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turn into dinosaurs, Makes Perfect Sense.”
    And you mock Christian beliefs....seriously? seriously...

    March 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Gumby

      At least we atheists don't worship an imaginary zombie.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Really?

      Hey "preach" thanks for showing the stupidity of Christians, where did you find that lame definition.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Mike D

      That's the wrong way to frame your argument, because atheists will respond with something like, "As opposed to you, who thinks a magic sky man just sort of waved his hands and everything just appeared out of nowhere. And where did God come from? Who made Him?"

      No, it won't answer. If you want to win hearts sarcasm and cynicism is not the way to do it.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Science depends on hypothesis, critical observation, experimentation, replication, and then more of the same. Christianity depends on – my deity told me through a single collection of ancient stories. If you believe in a miracle creation by a deity, then why not the Cherokee creation story, or the Norse creation story, or, or , or.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • momoya

      Nope.. Atheists don't believe that, preach.. Atheists are honest enough to admit when they don't know an answer; they don't feel the need to rush for a magical answer and then lay back in comfort of having filled in the blank with an "X" when the answer might be anything at all..

      Christianity is the belief that god had to sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself by exploiting a loophole in a plan he made himself because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat some fruit that made her wise to what she didn't know was wrong until she ate the fruit that was wrong to eat.. Maybe there's some sort of god out there, but if so he's bound to be a lot smarter than the git described by the bible..

      March 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Drew

      Christianity – The belief that some cosmic jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Makes perfect sense.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • cykill

      Dinosaurs? I though the earth was only 5,000 years old.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • PublicCries

      You know nothing of science obviously so stick to your ONE book of everything if it makes you feel good, maybe your imaginary friends will talk back to you one day 🙂 Personnally Ive read your bible as well as a hundred books on science, Ive even read a chunk of quaran (gross).........it all comes down to one thing.....Tebow is lousy Q B and the Broncos are way better off this wayanyway, Tebows prayers came true ...You all bought into his holly than though crapola...Jets can have him...

      March 22, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • PublicCries

      Cmon ,according to originall scripture the earth is only about 5000 years old DINOSAURS?...hmmmm...I think you all have to rewrite it again to match modern SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES.....wont be last time either,we will find other life out there and when it happens you can rewrite it all.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • derp

      From a guy who believes that a magic sky wizard waved his magic wand and poooof!!, there was an earth.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  9. Sandy

    I think tim is a good qb and will only improve each season. those of you who think God doesn't exsist I m praying you find him. because he is Real very real. The bible states one day every head will bow and ever tongue will profess that God is lord. that means you too. he loves us all and for people to reject his love and his sacrifice is well just unbelievable. there is power and strength in the word of GOD.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • momoya

      @ Sandy

      The god you worship would be unrecognizable to most people around the globe today.. Your god would be unrecognizable to someone of your exact strain of faith by someone a hundred years ago–they'd have no idea what you were talking about.. Your god would be unrecognizable to the Puritans 200 years ago.. Your god would be unrecognizable to the Lutherans of 400 years ago–and on and on–just in YOUR own faith!!

      Your god is only understood THROUGH the culture and time period in which you live.. The same for any culture and time period.. We're talking millions and millions of believers.. What are the chances that you just happened to be born in the right time, place, and culture so that you believe in the correct god in the correct way?. Almost zero, and if you are worshiping the correct god in the correct way, he's pretty stupid to make true god belief the product of your birthplace and society..

      March 22, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Cyprus

      It's pretty pathetic that here were are in a time when information is more readily available than ever before and people still cling to a book that was written 2000 years ago about a magical man in the sky. Some day Jesus will be thought of in the same way we view Zeus, people will laugh that earlier humans believed in such nonsense.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Gumby

      The bible is nothing more than mythology. Your god is nothing more than your imaginary friend.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Gumby

      @ momoya – excellent comment. Spot on.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • vince

      Not believing isn't rejecting.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Galaxy101

      I'm sure it IS unbelievable for a person who places mountainous importance on 'beliefs'. If there is such power and strength in the word... why not start carrying out those things from your inerrant holy text that you KNOW you should be doing. You can start by killing anyone you see who is working on the sabbath. Good luck !

      March 22, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      The first sentence just shows how dumb you really are. Tim Tebow is a garbage QB. Period.

      ....I do sincerely hope you know the history of your religion and that MEN wrote and edited the bible over a long period of time. Those are not the words of god, those are the words of men.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • derp

      "I think tim is a good qb and will only improve each season"

      And every general manager in the NFL thinks you are an idiot.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    When you get right down to it, he's a football player with a shelf life of a few years: if he had ended up operating the fryer at McDonalds and got down on bended knee every time someone supersized their order, no one would give a damn except his co-workers. Tebow may be a nice kid, but everything he does is ultimately a performance: I doubt he has ever really thought about who and what he is: doing public works for public acclamation is self-serving and disappointing to witness. People who pray in the public square should be avoided and shunned as roll-models.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Mike D

      Exactly. From Matthew 6 5 – 6:

      And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • JustWho

      Only some show offs succeed in the marathon of life. Flaunting oneself is not Christian-like.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      mike, those words were written and edited by a bunch of men, not god. try again.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  11. momoya


    From page 4.. Yep, there's lots of cool stuff.. Just because there's interesting stuff in the universe, doesn't mean that it was done by a magic unicorn or one of the thousands of gods people have believed in..

    If you want to fill in the blanks of your own knowledge with "Goddidit," then that's fine.. Smarter individuals aren't going to accept such a stupid answer and will keep looking for more specific answers with hypothesis and testable experiments..

    The argument of "incredulity" is not an argument for a god; it's merely a statement on how much knowledge we still have to attain.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • John

      Its called "humor" pin head! You know the stuff your made up of.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • momoya

      John I'd certainly reply to you honestly if I had any idea of what point you were trying to make.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  12. John

    I think the knee pad companies are going to make a lot of money selling only the right side for all the one knee prayers that are going to be out there. The "Donkies" knee'd to come up with something new now.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  13. John

    Maybe some of that "TEE/BOW" will rub off in the rotten apple,god knows they need it.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      The "rotten apple"? You mean, the people who pulled themselves together after 9/11, and showed the country and the world how real Americans act in a crisis? Tell that to one of them, and see how long you last, idiot.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • ZackBauer

      Angry little wiener much?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Guest

      Typical southerner who thinks their region is better then anywhere else. I think the whole of America is great. Even those places with different cultures. In addition, when the rest of the world thinks of the U.S., they do usually think of New York.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  14. Akahn

    And while they are mourning it, Denver Christians are more than welcome to move out of Denver with him. In fact, I'm going to start praying they do. Maybe New York has room for the Colorado Springs Christian cults like Focus on the Fallacy and the Navigators and all the rest as well? Hope so, the less of them around our state the better. Teblows Goes and it's a joyous day in Colorado...

    March 22, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      We would send them to New Jersey.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  15. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Just saw on HLN a guy in NY says, "Now we have Jesus on our side."
    Some people are scary stupid ..

    March 22, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  16. amplifo

    Matthew 6:5 – “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."
    Here's hoping Mr. Tebow repents for his sins of the flesh before it is too late and finds a quiet time when the cameras are not focused on him to briefly close his eyes and thank God rather than do a dramatic pose when all eyes are on him like the hypocrites the Bible warned us about.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Jesus was one of those "street preachers" .. just thought you should know.

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

      Jesus was Jewish and the Bible did not exist for centuries after he walked. Whatever he believed or didn't had nothing to do with Christianity.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      That bible was also written by a bunch of men.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • randy726

      You're not very bright are you. I wish atheists would leave bible interpretations to believers. Jesus Christ is the leader of the Christian church. It was He who established the church, He is the head we are the body. Please stop misleading people. If you choose to die without the Lord and spend eternity burning in hell then go ahead but don't try taking others with you. I will pray for you.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • LeeCMH

      The "books" in the Bible were also hand-picked by Constantine. Many writings were shunned. For example the book of Judas.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • ZackBauer

      @Randy: I feel so truly sorry for you. Your smug self-satisfaction is the obvious byproduct of a mental illness. I wish you nothing but a speedy and complete recovery.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Beer Volcano

      Randy, likewise I will pray that you see the error of your ways and join the one true religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Our heaven has a beer volcano.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • amplifo

      @Randy726 – Don't pray for me you condescending neophypte. I am a a follower of Christ. He established the Catholic Church through Peter, not Christianity in general. I am simply explaining why, based on the teachings of the version of the Bible he chooses to endorse, Tim Tebow is a sinner doomed to eternal damnation unless he repent for his wicked hypocritical ego-driven ways of praying for all to see. I do not hate the sinner. I only hate the sin and Tebow is in clear violation of Biblical authority that he professes to follow. I will pray for you too that you see the Light and do not be swayed by charisma. God be with you.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  17. coder

    not everyone is mourning

    i think there are more there are more people happy to see him leave

    March 22, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  18. LeeCMH

    Lot's of Christians on this comment board nailing themselves up on their crosses. They carry their nails with them. This is one of the Christian's most famous memes. Christians use government or in-your-face behavior to enforce their religion on everyone, but when folks say no, the Christians nail themselves up - oh boo hoo you are persecuting me.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son

      Well said.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • redoogle

      If you study Christianity as it has evolved, being perceived as the victim is actually a core aspect of the religious expression – even though the religion has marched around the world with imperialist colonizers and destroyed other faiths because many think they have it all figured out. There is truth in Christianity but there is also truth in other religions. Often the less in your face people are, the more true wisdom exists.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Death to Sycophants

      I refer to this as Christian Persecution Complex (CPC). You are welcome to use it.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • PublicCries

      If god wrote the bible or his dicifles it should never have been touched by mans hands and never should "evolved" what does that mean....As man proves more and more through science they have to rewrite it...that is evolving????When it comes to religous script the "evolving"thing is a cop out to adjust to truths found though science....you keep trying and one day you may talk back to yourself

      March 22, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • PublicCries

      If god wrote the bible or his dicifles it should never have been touched by mans hands and never should "evolved" what does that mean....As man proves more and more through science they have to rewrite it...that is evolving????When it comes to religous script the "evolving"thing is a cop out to adjust to truths found though science....you keep trying and one day you may talk back to yourself.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  19. Diest

    Looks like a lot of Tebowners will be heading east. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  20. Someone

    OK, let's go through this one more time......

    Tebow is an entertainer. Period. That's all professional sports are. As a quarterback, he didn't lead his team into the playoffs – they got in at 8 and 8 because the whole division was pretty bad. They lost the last three games. He managed a good first half against the Steelers, got shut down the second half save for a field goal, and then they managed a win on some heroics. They were then destroyed by the Pats.

    My problem with Tebow is this – when he did the anti-abortion ad, apparently the point was that if his mother had the MEDICALLY recommended abortion, then we would not of had Tebow – the entertainer. I have a real problem with someone trumpeting an entertainer. He does a lot of good things – although, as the article points out, he is hardly the only one and is very high profile about it – so, can we get over it please?

    March 22, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • IHS

      You, sir, are an idiot. Are you saying it's okay to have an abortion if the person grows up to be an "entertainer", as you say? What, only people who cure cancer shouldn't be aborted?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Brek

      not gonna happen hater!

      March 22, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Seems a bit "prideful" to think he is so important that we should all shudder at the thought he may not have been born!
      I get your point Someone ..

      March 22, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son



      March 22, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Filtered

      The point of the ad was that he grew up to be a human being. Doesn't matter what his profession is.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Filtered .. If it weren't for the fact that he is a popular christian football player he wouldn't have been asked to do the ad .. so it seems you missed the real point.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:18 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.