Jan 12, 2021 - Sports

New England coach Bill Belichick turns down Trump's presidential medal offer

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Photo: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Monday he will not accept the presidential medal of freedom that President Trump was set to award him following last week's Capitol siege.

Driving the news: Belichick said while he was initially flattered to be offered the award, "the tragic events of last week occurred," and he has decided not to move forward.

  • Belichick faced calls, including from several Democratic lawmakers, to decline the award, per The New York Times.

What they're saying: "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," Belichick said in a statement, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

  • "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," he added.
  • "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 outweighs the benefits of any individual award."
  • The White House did not immediately comment on Belichick's statement.

The big picture: Belichick said in 2016 his friendship with Trump went back many years.

  • Prior to the November 2016 election, Belichick wrote a letter to Trump in which he congratulated the then-presidential hopeful on a "tremendous campaign," per NBC Sports.

Worth noting: Belichick's statement Monday came a day after the Professional Golfers' Association announced its board of directors voted "to terminate the agreement" to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump's New Jersey golf course.

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