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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.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

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. Tom

    He will have a much larger population base in NY area than he had in Denver to reach & influence people. We might be sad in short term for him leaving but be glad in the fact he can do even more good in NY than he could do in Denver.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • nookster

      Another Christian wackjob? Yawh......

      March 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Ibanesse

      Tom... This is New York. We have more non-Christians than anywhere else in the country along with the largest percentage of Atheists and Agnostics. Trust me when I say religion doesn't enter into our daily lives much, and the few times it does (for some of the more old school Italian-Americans on Staten Island, for instance), it's usually Catholicism, not Evangelical Christianity. He screws up once on the field, which he is prone to, the media here will eat him alive. They almost crucified Coughlin this season, for Gort's sake, and he went on to win the Super Bowl!

      If anything, ultra-Liberal New Yorkers (we vote 90 PERCENT for Democrats in Presidential elections, support abortion rights by a 4-to-1 margin, gay marriage by a 3-to-1 margin) will resent him for overt displays of piety. I know I will.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Dennis

      A lot of truth there Tom...If Ibanesse's post is correct he (or she) just described NY as Babylon...where they brag about their decadent perversions and thier love of crucifying anyone who doesn't live thier sinfully blind and lost lifestyle. Wow! What better place to put Tim Tebow as a light in such a dark place? I love it!!! God does work in mysterious ways.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Ibanesse

      Dennis, he's a football player. Not an apostle. You, frankly, sound a little crazy here.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Nonimus

      Just out of curiosity, what virtues does a multi-millionaire pro football (one of the most violent sports around) player and product endorsers really display?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  2. JakeAZ

    i don't understand these people "mourning his departure." If they want a preacher, go to church...this is football.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  3. budshot

    The headline of this article pretty much tells why Tebow was never going to be here in Denver all that long – he appealed to his same-faith fans but he just really wasn't very good at football (yet).

    I'm one Denver resident that's glad the side-show is over. Tebow seemed to love praying for the camera. I'm the type that thinks that should be private. It caused a ton of division in this town, which was beyond unnecessary.

    And on a football note (which is all the Tebow story should be in the first place), my bet is that even with the limited playing time he'll have in New York, with his reckless style he'll be injured long before Manning might be.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  4. jb1963

    I have officially switched from being a Jet fan to a Giants fan.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  5. tokyo joe

    I hope New York don't chew him up and throw him out

    March 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      I hope they do. Sanctionious hypocrites don't last, especially in an environment like that.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  6. Tom

    If Tim is a true Christian, then I'm sure God wants him working in other places. I doubt this is a random thing.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • JamesT297

      But what if he's not a TRUE christian?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  7. JamesT297

    This is actually a blessing for Denver. Tebow can now become even larger in death than he ever was in life. Kind of like his role model.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  8. Evan

    Thank goodness! I can finally read a newspaper without having to traverse at least 10 articles about Tim Tebow. The fact that a story like this makes national headlines just shows how bad it is here in Denver...

    March 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  9. soul68

    "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."

    So basically they ignore the Bible when it's inconvenient for them. Last I checked Tuesday wasn't the Sabbath.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Kim

      Last time I checkedd, Sunday wasn't the Sabbath either!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • uh...

      neither is Sunday.

      Saturday is the seventh day of the week...

      March 22, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Mendozian

      If you want to use Scripture as your reference, then Sunday is not the Sabbath either. Saturday is. Either way, what difference does it make what day people choose to gather together to worship? I am encouraged that they are doing it at all. Requiring a specific day as the only legitimate day is legalism and removes the element of worship all together.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Ben428

      Last I checked the Sabbath was Saturday.Look it up. Looks like most Christian churches ignore that one.Don't be picky, but if you must be picky, be informed.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  10. ourjoe

    such a mean spirit towards a nice young man! don't you have better thing to do that might make this a better world than hurl all these mean spirited words at him??

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

      Because in the dictionary next to the word "overrated," there's a picture of a dude tebowing.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  11. nookster

    Tebow won't have as many evangelical/conservative/teabagger type supporters in New York as he had in Colorado. He will have to be successful in what ever position he plays or New York fans will crucify him. He will still have christian zealot nutjob types around the country support him but their impact will be insignificant there.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • LeeCMH

      The NY fans will not need to "crucify him." He'll crucify himself! Christians carry their own crosses and even have their nails in their pockets so they can nail themselves up screaming persecution.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  12. Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things

    Christian prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Christianity makes you frothy in your south like Rick Santorum. See http://santorum.com
    Christianity prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Christianity makes you fat.
    Christianity wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Christianity contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Christianity fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Christianity can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Christianity reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Christianity exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Christianity makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Christianity makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Christianity makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Christianity gives you knobbly knees.
    Christianity dulls your senses.
    Christianity makes you post really stupid shit.
    Christianity makes you hoard cats.
    Christianity makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Christianity wastes time.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Dennis

      Go back to hell Satan...there's a nice fire waiting for you there...:)

      March 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  13. pablo

    Well, as usual, the non-Christians posting here just don't get it; even the writer of the article doesn't get it: God is not on Tim Tebow's side, Tim Tebow is on God's side and that's what makes him so much more special than the general population of thugs and ex-convicts that our children have as sports role models. Good luck Tim, "God works for the good of all those who love Him." It's not a matter of whether he plays for Denver or any other team, for every person it comes down either you trust God and take Him at His word for what you can't see, or you don't; Tim Tebow trusts.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Mike

      Yeah...too bad he's really not a very good quarterback, though.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Teblowing is not healthy for children and other living things

      Christian prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Christianity prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Christianity makes you fat.
      Christianity wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Christianity contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Christianity fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Christianity can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Christianity reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Christianity exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Christianity makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Christianity makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Christianity makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Christianity gives you knobbly knees.
      Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Christianity dulls your senses.
      Christianity makes you post really stupid shit.
      Christianity makes you hoard cats.
      Christianity makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Christianity wastes time.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Sigh

      I had the Misfortune of Meeting Tebow at an event before Super Bowl XLV, which was before he was Denver's Starter. WHen there were no Cameras rolling he was Overly rude to a Double Amputee who had recently GOtten back from Afghanistan. I will not get into Details, But he is not the Well Meaning Christian he Portrays himself as.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • LeeCMH

      The bottom line is Tebow is sent off. Let's see how his religious displays - on his NFL team paycheck - go with the Jets. I would undulate for Jeeeeeeesus here at the office, but I am sure to get stares.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Dennis

      I agree...Tim is a great role model and example of true christianity because there's so much false in the world unfortunatley. Even folk who are not christians want him to marry their daughter...that speaks volumes alone. As for the trade...Tim should have gone to Jacksonville (his home state) to boost attendance and to be a starter. He plays with toughness, heart and guts and plays by the creed "whatsoever you do, do it as unto the Lord" so he gives his all. As for Denver...Peyton's multiple neck surgeries will only take one (Saints type) hit and his career is over and Elway will be fired for sending Tebow packing.
      Tim will be great wherever he plays but Rex Ryan needs to know what a gifted athelete he has and Tim is not just a token.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • God

      "God is not on Tim Tebow's side"

      Of course I am not on his side. If I were on his side, he would not have been last in the league in completion percentage or yards per game. He sucks, and I'm an Eli fan. How in the world do you think that doofus won the Superbowl. Without my help he couldn't carry his brother Peyton's jockstrap.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • anon

      Really?? "God works for the good of all those who love Him." ??? Try telling that to the hundreds of millions of "Good Christians" in third world countries that are starving or running for their lives due to ethnic conflicts despite their prayers. I am betting you have never read the news coming out of the rest of the world.
      Believing in god is just as crazy as believing in Santa Claus. But I guess let the weak willed people have their spiritual Kool Aid. You realize your actually worshiping the sun and not some white bearded man in the clouds. Ironically enough your god is depicted a lot like Santa Claus minus the red cheeks and the clothes.

      In the end you are missing the fact that Tebow is where he is because he did it himself. Its not because some mythical man answered his prayers. God doesn't work that way or have you even actually read your own bible?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Thomas

      Well, Maybe God will help him be a better football player. And maybe you'll open your bible and quit palying on the internet!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  14. christina knight

    tim tebow was an effective college quarterback, but he lacks the skills to be a consistent pro quarterback. i predict he will not even be in the nfl (or at most he will be a 3rd string quarterback) within the next 5 years.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • anon

      Thank you!! You are exactly correct. He was nothing more than a running game QB. If he had to throw more than 10 yards then watch out for an interception cause it could happen. I am glad he is out Denver deserves better.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  15. Kyle

    When Manning starts the season 6-0, he'll be forgotten.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Reality Check

      When's this 6-0 season happening? The Colts already lost to the Saints the only time it did. Time to wake up, buddy.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  16. Galaxy101

    Let's do this in two groups, shall we ? There's just TOO many of you here in Colorado. Everyone WITH Tebow please move to the East Coast Jets side... and the rest of you remain here and await further championships...

    March 22, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • angeleyes

      I live on the east coast and have been a Denver fan for a long time. I remember a young QB named John Elway who didn't do so well either his first 2 yrs in the league. Tim will do well wherever he goes, I just wish it could have been Jacksonville. I wish him all the best.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • derp

      Elway struggled adjusting to the pro game. He had the arm, he just needed to learn the NFL game. Tebow does not have an NFL arm. He was the WORST passer in the NFL last year. Worst in yards per game. Worst in completion percentage. You can't coach arm strength and accuracy. No NFL GM sees any real potential in Tebow. If they did, Denver would have gotten more than a 4 and 6 minus a 7 for him.Tebow will be out of the NFL in two years when his contract is up. Bye bye jesusboy.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  17. Tr1Xen

    Yet another reason for me not to like the Not Yet Jets.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  18. Granger

    More than Christians will miss him, he was a good role model compared to the inked-up ex-street thugs that populate the NFL now, as well as the NBA.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Galaxy101

      A role model ONLY to those who were willing to believe in his xtian voice.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • derp

      I don't find a gut who sucks at his job and shoves his religion in my face to be any kind of role model for my kids.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Devon

      Granger, I agree completely; I think Teabow is a great role model. I am not a "typical christian" by any means and I normally argue against organized religion. Often I found Teabow's constant stream of Jesus speak annoying, but his faith is not what made him a great role model. What makes him an excellent role model is the fact that he's a nice guy who acts like a professional and seems to understand that the world does not revolve around him. I really don't care if a person is christian or not, just be decent human being, and I believe Tim Teabow is a decent person.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Grangerisracist

      What Granger meant to say was that he/she is in fact a racist that thinks only white guys that pimp their christian values as if they were walking the corner looking for action are great role models. I mean successful "thugs" as Granger called them doesn't help when granger tries to project racial superiority to the kiddies now does it?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Grangerisracist

      @Devon Dude it is Tebow not Teabow. Go to Starbucks and get your tea already.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  19. John

    Root from afar huh! BS. JUST PLAY FOOTBALL denver, and try to do well without all the bullcrap and side shows. tHE GUY MADE MILLIONS FROM HIS ACT AND HE'S LAUGHED ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK,NOW ITS ON TO THE ROTTEN APPLE TO MAKE EVEN MORE MILLIONS AND LAUGH SOME MORE ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK. WORD!

    March 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  20. Mike

    Tebow prayed that the Broncos would have a shot at the Super Bowl...so God gave the Broncos Manning and sent Tebow packing. I guess the Lord really does work in mysterious ways, huh Tim?

    March 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Amen to that.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Dennis

      DislikedMike...Tim never prayed that the Broncos would go to the Super Bowl, he doesn't believe that way. Tim knows it's just a game and he only prays that God will let him be the best he can be as a man first then whatever comes his way he will accept as God's will, just like this trade. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.. like placing a "believer" among many non- believers to be a light in thier darkness. Jesus moved from place to place and we are no different, we may be required to go into a lions den or kill giants, so stay tuned Mikeee...Tebow is very young and healthy and Peyton is?????????

      March 22, 2012 at 9:42 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.