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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 21, 2022

No, the NFL didn’t complain when Tim Tebow knelt in prayer

If Your Time is short

  • Tim Tebow drew both support and criticism from NFL fans who watched the then-quarterback kneel in prayer during games, but we found no evidence that the league complained about it. 

Tim Tebow, an evangelical Christian who played quarterback at the University of Florida and for the Denver Broncos, was known for a devout kneeling pose that became known as "Tebowing."

While some detractors were scornful of his religious displays, there’s no record of the NFL chastising him for it. 

But some people on social media remembered things differently.

"Remember when Tim Tebow use to kneel in prayer and the NFL complained saying the game was not the place for divisive displays on one’s own person beliefs," a recent Facebook post said. "Yes, I remember too." 

The claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We couldn’t find any evidence that suggests the NFL was upset by Tebow’s kneeling in prayer during games, and neither could other fact-checkers who looked into the claim. 

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In fact, in 2014, the NFL’s vice president of football communications criticized a call on the field during a Kansas City Chiefs game when Husain Abdullah, then a safety for the team and a Muslim, dropped to his knees in prayer and received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

"Abdullah should not have been penalized," tweeted Michael Signora, the NFL VP. "Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons."     

NFL rules say that players can’t drop to their knees after a touchdown unless it’s in prayer. UPI, which reported on the dustup over Abdullah’s penalty, noted that Tebow also prayed mid-game.

"Far from being penalized, the act became somewhat of a sensation in 2011," UPI said. 


In college, Tebow was known for wearing eye black emblazoned with Bible verses — like the time he wore "John 3:16" under his helmet for the Gators’ 2009 championship win. But in 2010, the NCAA banned players from wearing eye black showing words of any kind, a move nicknamed the "Tebow rule." The NFL already had a similar rule.

That’s not what the Facebook post was talking about. So we rate it False.


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No, the NFL didn’t complain when Tim Tebow knelt in prayer

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