Patriots coach Bill Belichick declines to accept Presidential Medal of Freedom

Sports

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots stands on the field during the pregame warm up prior to playing in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (NewsNation Now) — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he will not receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“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. “Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy”

The presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was expected Thursday.

President Trump and Belichick have known each other for several years. Before his campaign victory in 2016, Trump read a letter of praise from Belichick at a New Hampshire rally. Belichick said afterward he was not a political person and that he had “a friendship and loyalty to Donald.”

Trump is still set to present one of the nation’s highest civilian honors to two congressional allies, California Rep. Devin Nunes and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, with the time remaining in his term.

Full Statement

“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.”

Bill Belichick

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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