2021-01-12 02:09:13 UTC
*New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after 'the tragic events of last
week the decision has been made not to move forward with the award'
*Although he describes himself as apolitical, Belichick wrote Trump a letter
during the 2016 presidential campaign
*Trump read the letter aloud at a rally in the days before the election -
Belichick has said the two are friends
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Monday night that he will not
receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying 'remaining true to the people,
team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award'.
In a one-paragraph statement, the six-time Super Bowl winning coach did not say
explicitly that he had turned down the offer from President Donald Trump,
instead explaining 'the decision has been made not to move forward with the
award' in the wake of last week's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.
'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,' the coach said in a statement, which was
forwarded to The Associated Press by the team.
'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.'
Although he describes himself as apolitical, Belichick wrote Trump a letter
during the 2016 presidential campaign that the candidate read aloud at a rally
in the days before the election. Belichick has said the two are friends.
Trump announced on Saturday that he would be awarding Belichick the nation's
highest civilian honor this week as part of a late flurry of presentations that
also included three golfers: Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe
Sorenstam and Player accepted their awards in a private ceremony the day after
the Capitol riot.
Trump has selected a string of sports figures and political backers for the
award of late. He has often held grand presentation ceremonies for the award,
but recent ceremonies have taken place in private. Trump has generally avoided
the press since his election loss.
Belichick is undoubtedly one of the most successful football coaches in NFL
history and owns the most wins among active coaches.
The 68-year-old just completed his 46th NFL season and 21st as Patriots coach -
leading the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships.
The Bill Belichick Foundation also provides scholarship and grant funds to help
underprivileged youth participate in sports programs.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is only awarded an average of 11 times per
It recognizes those who have made 'an especially meritorious contribution to the
security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or
other significant public or private endeavors.'