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December 19, 2011

Is God winning football games?/ Ryan W

Note from Dave: This post was written before Sunday's game between the Broncos and the Patriots (whom I like to think of as "God's team").


“Seriously, there’s more going on here than just football.  This is God’s plan.”

“Of course [the Denver Broncos] are going to win; they have Jesus on their side.”

“How can you tell me that Jesus Christ isn’t winning these games.  How else can you explain it?”

These are only a fraction of the quotes that I’ve heard in the past days, following what has been the most improbable comeback win of a series of improbable comeback wins for the National Football League’s Denver Broncos, this season.

Denver-broncos-logoThe Denver Broncos started the season with a very disappointing 1 win, 4 loss record, were last in their division and the season looked as if it was in the garbage.  After six weeks of intense fan pressure for a quarterback (QB) change, the Denver coaching staff relented and named the third string QB, Tim Tebow, as the team’s starter.  Since Tebow took the reins in week 7, the Broncos are 7-1, lead their division and are highly likely to make the NFL playoffs.  The turnaround has been incredible, but even more amazing is that each win has been characterized by Tebow playing horribly in the first three quarters, posting what are likely the worst quarterback statistics in the league and the Broncos trailing their opponent.  Then, in the fourth quarter (often with only a few minutes to play) Tebow and the Broncos do a complete 180; Tebow post statistics that are superior to nearly every quarterback in the NFL and the Broncos pull out a come-from-behind, heart stopping victory.


A brief background on Tebow - he grew-up as a son of missionaries and throughout his success as a quarterback, which includes winning an NCAA National Championship and Heisman Trophy at the University of Florida, he has always professed a strong faith in Jesus as Lord.  Tebow is very public about his faith, including praying on the sideline, writing Bible verse references on his eye black in college, and of course, thanking Jesus for his blessings after every football game. 

Tebow-Points-to-GodTebow’s outspoken faith has garnered a lot of reaction, both positive and negative, as you might assume.  All season long, Tebow has been an extremely divisive figure, even amongst Bronco fans.  There is a pro-Tebow group who love his outspoken and honest profession of faith, find no fault in him, and support his every move (even when playing poorly).  And, there is the anti-Tebow group who hate his flaunting of faith, ridicule his ability as a quarterback (even when playing well) and rabidly discredit anything good about him.

The Broncos’ turnaround and the astonishing manner in which each game has been won is vexing the national sports media and sports fans, alike. Interestingly, I’ve observed a sort of transformation of most sports media in the anti-Tebow group that seems to be taking place.  What began as outright anger and contempt for Tebow, has mostly melded into a favorable regard for the Denver QB.  Televised proclamations about Tebow have transitioned, week-by-week, with statements trending from  “Tebow’s enthusiasm helps the team, but he still stinks.” to “Tebow is actually playing ok.” to “Maybe he is, indeed, the reason for this team’s success.”

The latest comments from sports fans (I’m finally getting to the point of this post…) have been most intriguing, to me.  This past week has shown evidence of outright questioning whether God is actually helping Tebow and the Broncos win football games.  What began as sarcastic jokes about God winning football games, weeks ago, have taken a more serious tone with some honest and sincere reflection. 

Here is a written excerpt (or watch the clip above) from NBC host Bob Costas’ sentiments, following NBC’s Sunday night football game:

And the truth is, there’s nobody else quite like Tebow. No fewer than five of his seven victories have featured late fourth quarter comebacks. Approaching — okay, we’ll say it — the miraculous.

Again today, Tebow did next to nothing until the waning moments, and then, down 10-0 with two minutes left, he throws a touchdown pass, and the Broncos tie it at the gun on a 59-yard field goal. And then win it in overtime on a 51 yarder. The combination of Denver’s continuing late heroics, and today, the Bears otherwise unexplainable errors, is enough to have some at least suspect divine intervention. Except that Tebow, whose sincere faith cannot be questioned, and should be respected, also has the good sense, and good grace, to make it clear he does not believe God takes a hand in the outcome of games.

Most of us are good with that. Otherwise, how to explain what happens when there are equal numbers of believers on either side. Or why so many of those same believers came up empty facing Sandy Koufax. Or hit the deck against Muhammad Ali. Or why the almighty wouldn’t have better things to do.

The quote from Costas, along with literally hours of Tebow discussion that I’ve been involved in this past week, has revealed that the whole Tebow frenzy has people thinking in new ways.  The phenomenon has also bled outside of American football and is the topic of conversation around the world and in non-sports venues.


What’s been most intriguing to me, about all of this, is that each of the quotes that started this post came from people who would not describe themselves as religious types.  Two of the quotes are from people who would certainly not describe themselves as “Christian” or “followers of Jesus” and in fact, if I had to guess, I’d say that they’d describe themselves as anti all of that Jesus stuff. 

 Regardless of what is going on in Denver, and whatever may or may not be true about God winning football games, I find it great that the amount of God chatter has increased and that people from all walks of life are talking about, what boils down to, God’s role and activity in the world.  Very cool stuff, from my perspective.

So, that brings me to my questions for you all:

  1. Is God intervening in football games?

  2. What are your thoughts on the increased fan/media discussion of faith and God?

Request: let’s not turn this into a Tebow debate, please ☺

And, if you haven’t taken a pic of yourself “Tebow-ing” you should really try – it’s a ton of fun.  Go Broncos!



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