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Tim Tebow, most visible religious athlete, awaits his fate

Published: Tuesday, March 20 2012 12:59 p.m. MDT

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow takes a knee.

Jim Rogash, Getty Images

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By now it's common knowledge that quarterback Peyton Manning — a four-time NFL MVP — has chosen to sign with the Denver Broncos, and that that decision almost certainly means the Broncos will trade away Tim Tebow, their incumbent quarterback and one of the most visible Christians in America.

Tebow's notoriety stems from a phenomenon loosely known as Tebow nation — tens of thousands of fervent Tebow fans, many of whom share Tebow's evangelical Christian faith and believe the Heisman Trophy winner can do no wrong.

The Christian Post spoke to research and consulting firm Grey Matter on Monday to ascertain the breadth of Tebow's popularity. "It turns out that 50 percent of those surveyed named Tebow as the religious athlete they immediately thought of, while 36 percent could not think of any athletes who were religious, and 14 percent named an athlete other than Tebow. But even more interestingly, approximately 50 percent of those surveyed who were not Christian immediately thought of Tim Tebow."

Later in the day, the Christian Post speculated about where Tebow will play next year. "Despite his numbers, Tebow's Internet meme and popularity have caused some Dolphins fans to remain hopeful and predict that the QB will join Miami next season. … However, some believe that the Christian quarterback is more likely to end up in a place like New England."

A sampling of other opinions about what the future holds for Tebow and the Broncos:

Tim Dahlberg penned a pro-Manning column for the Associated Press: "The move was brilliant, assuming Manning is healthy and remains healthy. That's a big assumption, but Vegas oddsmakers quickly gave it their stamp of approval, lowering the odds of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl from as high as 50-1 to 10-1."

Free agent NFL linebacker Joey Porter compared Tebow to a best-selling entertainer during an interview with Nate Davis of USA Today. "Anybody who brings him in right now, you would think they're trying to do it for ticket sales," Porter said. "So it's just like, it's good to have a Justin Bieber because you're gonna get a whole (lot) of (fans). That's what I compare it to. He's the Justin Bieber of the NFL."

Tongue firmly in cheek, The Nation columnist Dave Zirin implored God to let Tebow sign with the Miami Dolphins. "Please deliver him to Miami. I know you have more pressing pursuits, but if it’s easy and quick, I’d be grateful. Also, if the Knicks could maybe win a championship in my lifetime, that would rock."