Love Him Or Hate Him, Tim Tebow Owns Denver

fromKUNC

Denver is buzzing about quarterback Tim Tebow and the resurgent Denver Broncos. This Sunday's match-up between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos is expected to be one of the most-watched NFL games of the season. Tebow has drawn attention for the public display of his Christian faith.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This Sunday's pro football game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos is expected to be one of the most- watched NFL games of the season. The Broncos have won six straight, pulling out come-from-behind victories led by quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow ignites passion among his fans for his poise and rushing ability, if not his passing style. He's also drawn attention for his very public display of his Christian faith. Kirk Siegler, of member station KUNC, gives us a taste of Tebow-mania from Denver.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Love him or hate him, you can't escape Tim Tebow here.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: One, 102.3 -The Ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #1: You just can't judge the Broncos the way you judge - and Tebow the way you judge other teams.

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #2: Hour number three, Mike and Scott, Denver's sports station, Sports Radio 104.3 the Fan. Yes, Tim Tebow...

UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER #3: (Spanish spoken) Tim Tebow...

SIEGLER: He's on pretty much every other billboard, too. There's even a new local beer called Tebrew, which is not yet on tap here at the Jackson's Hole sports bar downtown. General Manager Scot Minshall says since the Broncos started winning, sales have almost doubled on Sundays. He credits Tebow.

SCOT MINSHALL: Is there luck involved? Sure, it's unbelievable. I heard several people on Sunday said they were going to start going to church if they saw the Broncos win. Somebody named me may have been one of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIEGLER: The Broncos, under Tebow, have tied an NFL single-season record with three overtime wins. But in most of the games, the former University of Florida standout has done little until he's really needed to - the fourth quarter. And even when the defense shines, or Matt Prater kicks a game-winning field goal, the cameras, the announcers, the pundits are trained on Tebow.

DAVE KRIEGER: So it's sort of all about him, and not at all about him.

SIEGLER: Denver Post football columnist Dave Krieger says Tebow's poise under pressure is impressive - not to mention some of his runs. And that, along with his off-the-field personality, makes for great entertainment and great TV.

KRIEGER: It's almost as if someone wrote it that way, because in every Hollywood formula sports movie that you're going to see, it works exactly that way: The good guys are down and out. They have no shot, no shot, no shot, no shot for an hour and a half. And then suddenly, at the end, they come back and triumph. And that's basically what the Broncos have been doing.

SIEGLER: But Krieger says at least locally, Tebow-mania might have more to do with Broncos fans just wanting to win again.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

SIEGLER: And in this city full of transplants, not everyone is a Tebow partisan, either. At the popular Amato's Ale House, dozens of flat-screen TVs compete with conversations about the Broncos and Tim Tebow. Austin Comnick says he admires the young quarterback's competitiveness, but...

AUSTIN COMNICK: You know, he does the whole praise Jesus and my savoir, and all those things. And honestly, that kind of bugs me. I think you need to separate the two.

SIEGLER: But across the bar, for Harrison Kirby and his friends, Tebow's very public faith isn't a big deal.

HARRISON KIRBY: I think he's fun to watch.

SIEGLER: Diehard Broncos fan Ben Shapiro says he was as skeptical as most about Tebow, until the team started winning.

BEN SHAPIRO: I'm waiting for this weekend to be the determining factor.

SIEGLER: That's when Tebow and his 8-5 Broncos square off against the 10-3 New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, who's not exactly a stranger to fourth-quarter comebacks himself, or Super Bowl rings.

For NPR News, I'm Kirk Siegler in Denver.

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