Patriots' Bill Belichick Declines to Accept Presidential Medal of Freedom From Trump

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this week, the coach said in a statement Monday night.

Belichick said that the "tragic events of last week" made him decide "not to move forward with the award."

"Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation's values, freedom and democracy," Belichick said in the statement. "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 country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award."

Politico's Meridith McGraw first reported news of Belichick being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Sunday night. President Trump had planned to give Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, just over one week after the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead including a Capitol Police officer. 

Belichick, 68, had previously spoken publicly about his friendship with the president, and he had agreed to receive the honor after Trump offered it to him over a week ago, according to the Wall Street Journal's Andrew Beaton.

On Monday, numerous politicians urged the Patriots coach to decline accepting the award, including from Representative Jim McGovern (D-Ma.) who called accepting it “disgraceful.”

“Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, ‘No thanks,’” he told The Hill newspaper.

Senator Ed Markey (D-Ma.) also said Monday that Belichick should turn down the award, telling Boston Public Radio that "That could be the day that Donald Trump is being impeached in the United States House of Representatives for inciting an insurgency against the United States."

New England owner, Robert Kraft, has also been a long-time friend of President Trump and former star Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has played golf with the 45th President on multiple occasions. 

When Trump hosted Belichick and the Patriots in April 2017, shortly after New England won Super Bowl LI over the Falcons, New England presented Trump a personalized Super Bowl ring.

Belichick has been the coach of the Patriots since 2000.