FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that he would not “drive forward” the Presidential Medal of Freedom that Donald Trump was about to present to him on Thursday.
Belichick explained his decision in a statement:
“I was recently offered the opportunity to receive the President’s Medal of Freedom, flattered out of respect for the honor and admiration for past recipients. This was followed by the tragic events of last week and the decision was not made with the award to move forward.
“Most of all, I am an American citizen with a great awe of the values, freedom, and democracy of our nation. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things of my professional career found 2020 instead of, as The great leadership in our team brought conversations about social justice, equality and human rights to the fore and turned into actions.
“Continuing this effort while respecting the people, the team, and the country I love outweighs the benefits of each award.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is awarded by the President to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security of America’s national interests, world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
The honor for Belichick comes as the U.S. House of Representatives increases pressure to force Trump out of office before his term ends on Jan. 20 after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, during Congress this was confirmed by Joe Biden as his successor.
Trump recently selected several athletes and political supporters for the honor. Hall of Fame golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, as well as the late multi-athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, the day after the uprising at the Capitol.
The 68-year-old Belichick just finished his 46th season in the NFL and 21st as a Patriots coach. He has led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and has joined George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches to have six championships since the league began post-season in 1933. Belichick’s 311 wins (regular season and playoffs combined) are third all-time behind Don Shula (347) and Halas (324).