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Tebow inspires phenomenon called 'Tebowing'

Miami Dophins coach Tony Sparano gestures after the Denver Broncos scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Miami. Miami Dophins coach Tony Sparano gestures after the Denver Broncos scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
By Pat Graham
AP Sports Writer / October 29, 2011

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DENVER—Tim Tebow inspired a phenomenon when he dropped to a knee and began praying as his teammates wildly celebrated around him after an improbable overtime victory in Miami last weekend.

That was simply Tebow "Tebowing," a phrase coined by a fan sitting in a bar in New York watching the popular yet polarizing quarterback rally the Denver Broncos.

Jared Kleinstein was mesmerized by Tebow's peaceful demeanor kneeling on the turf amid all the chaos that ensued. He launched a website in which fans could submit photos of themselves "Tebowing," which means getting down on a knee and praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.

The trend is picking up steam.

Kleinstein has received quite a collection of photos. There are fans striking the Tebow prayer pose next to statues, in bowling alleys, on boats and while waiting in line for tacos.

There are kids getting ready for ballet performing the pose, an airline pilot just before takeoff and a construction worker on a rooftop. Recently, Kleinstein even received a photo of a solider in Afghanistan emulating Tebow's pose.

"It's addictive to be a Tebow fan," said Kleinstein, who grew up in Denver before moving to New York.

Never did Kleinstein envision this venture taking off so quickly. Kleinstein started the website earlier this week after purchasing the domain name -- Tebowing.com -- for $10.

Almost overnight, it caught on through social media. He went from an audience of 785 to nearly 390,000 in just a few days.

The amount of pictures he's receiving also is staggering. Just Friday alone, Kleinstein had to sort through more than 1,300 snapshots to post on the site.

But Kleinstein wanted to make one thing clear: The undertaking isn't meant to mock Tebow or poke fun at his religious beliefs, just show support.

On Friday after practice, Tebow said he appreciated the spirit of the website.

"Yeah, some people don't necessarily take it seriously but they're on their knee praying, so who knows what you're going to think about after that and how that can affect you?" Tebow said. "Hopefully, it's a good example for people."

His teammates have even taken part. Rookie linebacker Von Miller tweeted a photo of himself Thursday in a Tebow jersey and doing the pose.

"Tim Tebow's a celebrity and I'm on Team Tebow," Miller said. "I'm one of his biggest supporters and want to see him do it all.

"That's the way he prays. So what better way to capture that than to have a `Tebowing' thing like that?"

All it took was a small miracle to make it "Tebowing" time.

The former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida was abysmal for the opening 55 minutes in Miami. Then, Tebow turned electric as he brought the Broncos back from a 15-0 deficit in the final moments to force overtime, where the team pulled out an 18-15 win. It's the largest deficit overcome in a victory with less than 3 minutes since the 1970 NFL merger.

"When we won the game, the people in the bar were jumping around as if the Broncos had just won the Super Bowl, even though we had only beaten the last-place team in the league," Kleinstein recalled. "I just looked up at the screen -- the team is celebrating and he took a quick bow. I just said, `That's Tebowing. That's how we should pay tribute.'"

After the commotion quieted, Kleinstein and his friends went outside to take a group photo in Tebow's prayer formation. He posted it on Facebook just for fun and it spread quickly.

Soon after, he decided to launch the website.

Not only does Kleinstein post the photos, he also captions them. And they're quite hilarious.

For instance, there's a picture of a person with a bowling ball in a lane striking the pose with the explanation, "Tebowling." On another, there's a person perched on an exercise ball with the slogan "Tebow to the core" underneath. In yet another, a man in his office has a caption reading, "President and CEObowing."

"Tim praying, it's part of who he is," Kleinstein said. "It's not something that should be mocked or seen in any other way."

Tebow understands that. He recently received a tweet from a kid who's undergoing cancer treatment that melted his heart.

"It said, `I'm Tebowing while I'm Chemoing,'" Tebow recounted. "How cool is that? That's worth it right there. If that gives him any encouragement or puts a smile on his face or gives him encouragement to pray, that's really awesome. And that's completely worth it for me."

There are even other standouts in the Mile High City getting in on the act. Colorado Rapids forward Omar Cummings dropped to a knee and did the pose after scoring a goal in a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Thursday night in an MLS wild-card soccer game.

"I think what's funny about it is how rapidly it's caught on and how much it's taken off," said Tebow, whose Broncos host the Detroit Lions on Sunday. "I had no idea, then Von texted me what he did. Goof ball.

"But then going back and looking back and seeing everything, it was like, `Wow this really took off.' That's what's really incredible about it."

Even if it might not be completely original.

After all, dropping to a knee and praying after a game has been around for, well, quite a while.

"I've taken a knee many times on late field goals or those types of things in my football career," Broncos coach John Fox said. "Not taking anything away from Tim and his outstanding popularity."

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