Foxborough, MA – New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick said he would not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Donald Trump initially planned to give him last Thursday.
Belichick explained why in a statement.
“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said, according to ESPN.
“Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award,” he said.
Belichick continued: “Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and county I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
Newsweek reported in 2019 that Belichick wrote a letter of support to Trump during election time in 2016.
Trump read the letter from Belichick onstage.
According to Newsweek, Belichick’s letter to Trump read: “Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully – beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable.”
Belichick has 280 career wins in the NFL and has a 6-3 record in Super Bowls. This past year, the Patriots finished 7-9 and was the first time in 17 seasons that the Patriots didn’t win at least 10 games.