Despite Loss, Broncos Tebow Scores Big with Fans

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DENVER -- Despite the Broncos' loss to the New England Patriots Sunday, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's faith is still scoring big with fans on and off the field.

"I love Tim Tebow," Broncos fan Denise Pettenger said. "I think he's a great example. I think he brings encouragement to the team and to the city."

"Have you heard him, mic'd up? The man is singing praise songs instead of saying anything horrible. The guy's got it," another Broncos fan, Doug, said.

"It is awesome to see an athlete with a really good heart, just showing somebody in that light, and just how awesome God is, and Jesus," Tebow fan Emily Pearson said.

Tebow's public display of faith on the field is the talk of the town - and the nation.

"Just makes me proud to be a Christian," Doug said.

All the Tebow attention has even faithful fans poking fun at their football hero. 

"Today we are going to be learning from the book of Tebow, Chapter 3, verse 16," one Broncos fan joked.

Still, Tebow's performance on the field earns him respect, even from New England fans who weren't at the game to cheer him on.  

"Regardless of what you believe with his faith and all that kind of stuff, the guy wins games," Patriots' fan James Hardy said of Tebow. "I don't think you can take that away from him."

There was no denying the Tim Tebow excitement at Mile High Stadium on game day. But it is a fever that extends far beyond the stadium. It actually reaches the pulpit for Sunday services.

"The big deal at Christmas is not the Green Bay Packers, or the Denver Broncos, or Tim Tebow. You know what the big deal is: God," said Wayne Hanson, pastor of Colorado's Summit Church.

Hanson became friends with the Tebow family after the Broncos drafted the athlete.

"He's just as big in person as he looks on TV," he said.

There is no shortage of Tebow fans at Hanson's church. They are also supporters of Tebow's dad and his mission work in the Philippines.

It's a relationship that's had the pastor fielding hundreds of media calls this past week, including questions about how the gospel and grid iron mix... 

"I have answered a few atheists this week, when they've asked these questions," Hanson told CBN News.

"They ask, 'Do you really think that God cares about football games,'" he said. "'And I say, 'I don't think God really loves football. But I know that God loves people, and people love football.'" 

"And who knows that if people care about football, then God may be a little involved in their lives when they are playing football," he said. "That is my opinion, of course. It is pretty evident there is something beyond luck going on on the football field."
    
Pastor Wayne said that's true, even after a loss.

"God gets the praise when we win, and God gets the praise when we lose," he explained. "God is good all the time."

"My wife and I used to watch Reggie (White) and Sarah's kids when they were younger," he recalled.

White, who passed away in 2004, was an outspoken Christian in the NFL during the 1980s.

"And Reggie used to say that we praise God when we win and we praise God when we lose, but we always praise God."

It's a lesson Tebow knows - and teaches, by example.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.