For the love of the game, or the love of the Lord?
While sports may be religion for some spectators, the athletes who play them often submit to a higher power.
Tim Tebow's miraculous overtime victory with the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card game brings to mind a holy host of faithful players in recent sports history.
Love him or hate him, Tim Tebow's <a href="http://blog.chron.com/theemmausroad/2012/01/is-tim-tebow-the-new-face-of-christianity/" target="_hplink">devotion to his Christian faith</a> has driven the quarterback on a path of unrivaled football glory. (Photo: Tim Tebow, #15 of the Denver Broncos, celebrates after running the ball in the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Jan. 8, 2012 in Denver, Co.)
U.S. World Cup player Clint Dempsey has an impressive record and enough fame and success to make any aspiring player jealous. But the soccer star takes little credit for his own success and insists it's all in service to a higher power, Dempsey said in a recent interview with Sports Spectrum. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/clint-dempsey-jesus_n_5526311.html" target="_blank">Read more here</a>
The NBA's all-time leading scorer, Abdul-Jabbar is a <a href="http://kareemabduljabbar.com/?p=1829" target="_hplink">practicing Muslim</a>. (Photo: 1989: Kareem Abdul- Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a free throw during a game.)
A living legend, Muhammad Ali originally became a Muslim through the Nation of Islam in 1964. He later <a href="http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Islam/2005/02/Muhammad-Alis-New-Spiritual-Quest.aspx" target="_hplink">embraced Sufism</a>. (Photo: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali salutes the crowd before the start of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.)
Rocked by a sex scandal in early 2010, the sports world was also surprised when Tiger Woods <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2010-02-19/living/tiger.woods.buddhism_1_buddhist-scholars-tiger-woods-buddhism?_s=PM:LIVING" target="_hplink">invoked his Buddhist faith</a> while apologizing for his actions. Woods said he had strayed from Buddhist practice and finding that path again would be a big part of rebuilding his life. (Photo: U.S. golfer Tiger Woods watches his shot after connecting on approach to the18th hole on the final day of the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, on Dec. 4, 2011. Woods won the Chevron World Challenge on a one-shot triumph in an unofficial 18-man event, his first victory since a 2009 sex scandal shattered his iconic image. Woods had gone 26 starts worldwide without a victory as personal turmoil was followed by struggles on the course with swing changes and, this year, injuries that curtailed his playing time and stalled his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles at 14.)
The youngest male ever to win a Grand Slam singles title in tennis (he was 17 when he did this in 1989), Chang <a href="http://www.mchang.com/mchang/christianity.html" target="_hplink">thanked Jesus Christ</a> for the victory, saying, "without him, I am nothing." (Photo: Michael Chang of the U.S. returns a shot to Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand at the Hong Kong Tennis Classic tournament on Jan. 8, 2010.)
While not particularly observant, Sandy Koufax made sports history -- and emblazoned his name in the minds of Jews everywhere -- when he <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/09/god-vs-the-world-series-sandy-koufaxs-yom-kippur-sacrifice/63094/" target="_hplink">sat out Game 1 of the 1965 World Series</a> because it fell on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Koufax went on to pitch the Dodgers to a penant that year and was named World Series MVP for his efforts.
Selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Olajuwon is a devout Muslim who <a href="http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Islam/2000/12/Hakeem-Olajuwon-A-Ramadan-Interview.aspx" target="_hplink">played without food or water during the month of Ramadan</a> in almost every season of his career. (Photo: Houston Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon puts up a shot over Detroit Pistons' Joe Smith during the first quarter on Feb. 8, 2000, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich.)
Serena and Venus Williams
These twins of tennis stardom are committed Jehovah's Witnesses, whose adherents are said to be "representatives of God's heavenly kingdom." In 2008, Serena <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2008/06/why_dont_jehovahs_witnesses_vote.html" target="_hplink">voiced excitement over Barack Obama's candidacy</a>, but admitted her faith discouraged involvement in politics. (Photo: U.S. tennis player Serena (R) and Venus Williams smile at the end of their exhibition match at La Macarena bullring in Medellin on Nov. 23, 2011.)
Known as "The Minister of Defense," Reggie White, in both the college and NFL hall-of-fame, was on a quest for sports and spiritual truth. Later in life, Christian evangelism gave way to <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=dw-white020306" target="_hplink">studious Messianism</a>, with White studying ancient Hebrew for hours every day. (Photo: Aug. 24, 1998: Defensive end Reggie White, #92 of the Green Bay Packers, looks on during the pre-season game against the Denver Broncos at the Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Packers 34-31.)
Ukrainian-born and Brooklyn-bred, Dmitriy Salita, aka "Star of David," is an Orthodox Jewish welterweight boxer. He lost his first -- and only -- match in 2009. Some say this was <a href="http://www.forward.com/articles/129363/" target="_hplink">the beginning of his fight</a>. (Photo: Light-welterweight number one boxing contender Dmitriy Salita works out on a punching bag during training Nov. 12, 2009 in Bushkill, Penn Salita, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, N.Y., will meet British Muslim title holder Amir Khan on Dec. 5 in Newcastle, England.)
Was the fad 'Tebowing' taken too far when Detroit Lions' linebacker Stephen Tulloch 'Tebowed' after sacking Tim Tebow?
Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao is a Filipino professional boxer and politician who has been vocal about <a href="http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2012/April/Boxing-Champ-Manny-Pacquiao-a-Fighter-for-the-Faith/" target="_blank">his Christian faith</a> and relationship to God. Pacquiao is <a href="http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2012/April/Boxing-Champ-Manny-Pacquiao-a-Fighter-for-the-Faith/" target="_blank">quoted</a> as saying, "I have the word of God in my heart. I want to obey his commands." (Photo: Manny Pacquiao looks on prior to fighting Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 12, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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