Backup Quarterback Patents Prayer: Tebow Trademarks ‘Tebowing’

Leave it to Evangelical hero, NY Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow, to trademark prayer and profit from it.

Tim Tebow has trademarked “Tebowing”: kneeling on one knee and praying on a football field. Yes, the moneychangers at the Temple have nothing on Tim Tebow: now you have to PAY to PRAY.

I’ve said this before: Tebow is a proven winner in a college football context. But for Tebow, it’s always – ALWAYS – been about him (not Him): his brand, his charity, and his marketing arm (XV Enterprises Limited). Tebow has repeatedly stated publicly that football is merely his stage upon which he gets to promote his real message.

Of course, athletes have been kneeling and praying with head bowed for as long as there has been sports. Leave it to Tim Tebow to patent it.

(And yes, I’ll take the author’s advice and make the joke: Tebow’s marketing arm is better than his actual arm.)

21 Responses

  1. In the US, the failure to claim a trademark and then defend it is interpreted by the courts as a legal basis for use. His image and name could be used without his permission, and if you allow that to happen without response then you lose the right to sue over it in the future. I’m no Tebow fan, but wanting to legally protect yourself is somewhat understandable.

  2. So … if your religious service calls for you to kneel during Sunday worship service, you will now have to pay Tebow a fee ?

    Yikes, there are a lotta Catholics who aren’t gonna like that.

    . . . you can’t make stuff like this UP.

  3. Wow! I guess the equivalent of money changers exists among evangelicals. A way of praying becomes trademarked, so it will stop this kind of demonstrative prayer at sports events. Who wants Tebow’s lawyers after them for praying in public in a way resembling Tebowing?

  4. Before a football game, both teams typically huddle up a say a little prayer. After the game, the winner often thanks God for the victory. Does this indicate that God chose the winning team over the losing team?

  5. Well, Chicagoja, only if the Lord has money on the game.

  6. Dr. Cargill,

    Your post, along with every other post that links to this story, seems to make it seem like or explicitly say that it was the action that was trademarked. The problem with this is I have not been able to verify that this is the case. Instead, it seems that it is only the word ‘Tebowing’ that has been trademarked. Do you have a link that shows that the patent is for, as you say, “kneeling on one knee and praying on a football field?” I only ask because I didn’t even know it was possible to patent an action like this. If it is I have to wonder why Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson didn’t patent their distinctive tongue-out-ball-up or moonwalk?


  7. That is So sick! Why in the world would you first think God cares about you winning a football game over the children all over the world starving. And second, patent prayer when you say you have “a real message.” The real message is capitalism is who he’s praying to.

  8. I realize this is mainly tongue-in-cheek, but all the trademark gives him is the exclusive right to use word “Tebowing” in connection with the sale of sports merchandise. There’s no “patenting prayer” or anything like that.

  9. Stephen,
    Agreed. I’m pretty certain that he’s only trademarked the use of the modification of his name. That is, he bows in prayer on an athletic field like thousands before him, people call it “Tebowing”, and he trademarks the word “Tebowing” because it is his name. That way, he can sue sites that are making money of the use of the new word “Tebowing”.

    I still don’t like it. It’s as silly as Jesus trademarking “the Lord’s Prayer” or Thomas trademarking the phrase, “Doubting Thomas”, or Donald Trump trademarking the common phrase, “You’re fired”.

  10. Daniel, I believe your are correct. See my response to Stephen Carlson.

  11. I’m still looking for that verse that tells Christians to sue people when they’ve used your name in vain. I think it’s somewhere around 1 Cor. 6:1-8, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

  12. Dr. Cargill,

    I don’t understand your point. Is it that getting a patent or copyright ‘unchristian’? I can definitely understand copyrighting this thing for purposes of ‘factualness,’ he could want to safeguard the origins of the phrase and that it is not directed toward a god other than his god. I know many people sure wish the original Christians could have done this, since then we wouldn’t argue over such important matters. Now, of course, I am not trying to compare the value of the two things, Christianity vs. ‘Tebowing,’ I am merely comparing the current one with an ancient one that would have benefited from a patent. Finally, is he or has he taken another believer to court? Can a follower of Christ not take nonbelievers to court?


  13. Daniel, one patents and trademarks something to protect it legally. there are several websites out there with the name tebowing in them. he can now threaten them with legal action if they don’t pay him a royalty or stop the site.

  14. “Can a follower of Christ not take nonbelievers to court?”

    Of course a follower of Christ can’t. He or she is required to “turn the other cheek,” cheerfully suffering whatever comes his or her way. I’ve never read such a confused idea of what a follower of Christ might consider acceptable behavior.

    Mr. Tebow, on the other hand, can do whatever he wants with his money within our legal system. No one is confusing a multimillionaire with a “follower of Christ.”

  15. Jay,

    If you’ve never heard such a confused idea then you are probably to sure of yourself or at least your opinion. I doubt very seriously that even you think that figurative statement of Jesus should be concretely applied to all areas of a persons life. If you do, more power to you. I do not think those verses are best used in that manner. Taking someone to court may have different connotations today then it did back then since things were different. I think it strange that one can say followers of Christ should have the mindset of, “cheerfully suffering whatever comes his or her way,” is, well, recklessly rigid (although, I admit has much truth behind it) when we have stories in the Scriptures of people who didn’t always think this way. Paul and his thorn, Paul wanting to see Caesar, Peter leaving Jerusalem etc.

    As for no one confusing a multimillionaire for a follower of Christ I disagree. Whether Tim T. is a follower or not I do not know. I do though know that it is possible to follow Christ and be really wrong about things (maybe this is where this blog post finds relevancy). Did anyone confuse Peter, the Denier, with a follower of Christ (you know, the whole if you deny me then I’ll deny you bit)?

    Maybe Tebow is a false sheep, maybe he is well intentioned but misinformed, maybe he is right and you are wrong (he hasn’t, after all, sued anyone yet has he)?

    I am not confused. I’m just not ready to agree that your interpretation must be mine.

  16. It’s nice to see that some astute readers have actually pointed out that it is the word “Tebowing” that received the trademark and not the actual act of kneeling in prayer, which obviously can’t receive a trademark. I think if it wasn’t for your disdain of Tebow, you would have passed on what is a pretty innocuous story about standard business practices for anyone in the public eye that needs to control the use of their name/image in the marketplace.

  17. Nah, just pointing out that he has trademarked something that many other people do and have done for decades, and that someone else named. And now that there is potential marketing money to be made, Tebow’s marketing arm is going to hit that open target in a way that Tebow’s actual arm never could.

  18. Why doesn’t TT be honest and trademark the words, “It’s all about ME even though I pretend that it’s all about Jesus” ?

    Anybody know ?

  19. Daniel Owens,

    You’re not sure whether or not a man worth millions of dollars and who makes an ostentatious display of prayer is a follower of Christ? So “judge not” translates to “anything goes?”

    Contradictory actions and attitudes of other characters in the Bible aside, shouldn’t we be able to set the _explicitly spoken instructions and admonitions_ of Jesus as a bare minimum?

    Humans obviously make mistakes. But if Mr. Tebow isn’t attempting a good-faith effort to understand Jesus’ instructions then I don’t see how he qualifies — being a Follower of Christ surely means more than simply claiming the title.

  20. Jay,

    Yep your right. I don’t think a person who prays in public for all to see should be considered as not following Christ. (What a strange thought.) Not sure where your “anything” goes accusation comes from, my guess, thin air. He prays and has become rich — he has to be a wolf dresses as a sheep. Your rhetoric and logic should embarrass you.

    I get it. Jesus taught about the hypocrisy of “showy” religious actions and I think that people are right to caution Tebow about this. We must remember, though, that he did not start this practice recently. My understanding is that this started in his home school days. So, I guess now that he became a millionaire he should stop praying in public? (Well, maybe that is a good idea but definitely not a must.)

    Look, I am neither a conservative or Evangelical Christian. I do not agree with many of the views Tebow has but I do understand that he comes from a different perspective than I do. I think it is much more un-Christlike to accuse someone of something one only suspects will happen or, as many are doing saying he has trademarked prayer.

    And to answer your question, “Contradictory actions and attitudes of other characters in the Bible aside, shouldn’t we be able to set the _explicitly spoken instructions and admonitions_ of Jesus as a bare minimum? No. I don’t think that Jesus’ words are allowed to be understood apart from the context of the N.T.

    Tebow may end up taking the easy path and that would sadden me. It would sadden me in the same way as it would if any other person who was attempting to follow Christ lost faith.

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