You might remember hearing about the "Play Tebow" billboard that appeared in Denver back in September. Now you'll hear the rest of the story.
Jeff Darlington of NFL Network reports that four days after the billboard went up, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was fined by teammates including Kyle Orton for not publicly scolding the sign-makers.
The fines mounted for six days until Broncos coach John Fox replaced Orton with Tebow as the starter, and the sign came down.
The fine was never paid. And now Orton returns to the scene of the crime on Sunday to face Tebow as Chiefs quarterback.
So who put up the billboard?
Tariq, Ali, and Mohammad Suleimans, three Muslim brothers from Denver, are responsible. Tebow, as most fans know, is a devout Christian who prays so visibly during games that his kneeling worship -- "Tebowing" -- has become a national craze.
Mohammad Suleiman, 26, became aware of failed efforts to raise funds to put up a billboard supporting Tebow's increased role. Unlike other Broncos fans, Mohammad had the connections to make it happen.
He and his brothers all work at Multiline International Imports, which operates a large digital billboard above Interstate 25, a Hail Mary pass away from the Broncos' stadium. The brothers regularly posted digital messages advertising the store's sales and specials.
Not long after the Titans beat the Broncos in Week Three of this season, the brothers determined a quarterback change was needed. Mohammad took his pro-Tebow message to the masses. The message of "Broncos Fans to John Fox: Play Tebow!" was timed to interchange with "Welcome to Tebow-Land," showing a photo of the quarterback.
Just two weeks after the first advertisement went up, Tebow started the second half of a loss against the San Diego Chargers and was named the Broncos starter the next day.
Valerie Richardson of the Washington Times asked if the brothers had permission for the bootleg billboard message. "No, not really," said Mohammad. "We just kind of put it up there."
Turns out the business owner and the boys' boss happens to be their father. "My dad didn’t know who Tebow was at first, but he was fine with it," Mohammad said.
Fans began filling the parking lot near the billboard to take pictures.
"We had someone call us and say, 'You guys single-handedly changed the course of the Broncos,'" said Tariq, 30. "Not that we’re agreeing, of course."
The brothers are third-generation Coloradans and obviously diehard Broncos fans. All three attended the same high school and own degrees from the University of Colorado, according to the Washington Times.
The Suleiman brothers are also a bit miffed at Tebow's silence on the sign, but for a different reason. "We haven't seen Tebow come down and thank us yet," Mohammad said with a grin. "We’re waiting for him to come see us."
That might not happen anytime soon, but at least the master plan worked like a charm.
"It just goes to show you," Mohammad said to the Washington Times, "when Muslims and Christians get together, miracles can happen."
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