New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has announced he will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing his pride in pursuing ‘social justice’ causes and dismay over chaotic events which unfolded in Washington D.C. last week.
After news broke that President Trump intended to present the award to his longtime friend later this week, pressure quickly mounted on Belichick to reject the gesture.
“I would refuse it if I were Bill Belichick. This president has made a mockery of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said during an interview on CNN.
“To accept it is disgraceful.”
JUST NOW: "To accept it is disgraceful. "
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) January 11, 2021
Belichick quickly caved and declared he will decline the medal.
In a statement provided to the NFL Network, Belichick explained his decision as follows:
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. Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made 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. 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.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s stunning 2016 election win, he received a glowing endorsement from Belichick in a letter which Trump read aloud at a packed campaign rally in New Hampshire.
“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully – beautifully,” Belichick wrote. “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. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow.”
The Patriots recently closed out their first losing season since 2000, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
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