“I was recently offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was flattered by respect for what is an honor and admiration for previous recipients,” Belichik said in a statement. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and it was decided not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great respect for the values, freedom and democracy of the nation.”
A White House spokesman told CNN that the White House had been informed of the decision.
Belichik has been the Patriots’ head coach since 2000 and has won six Super Bowls, an NFL record for head coach.
In 2016, he wrote a letter in support of Trump. He told reporters after Trump broke out about the letter: “Our friendship goes back many years. Anyone who spends more than five minutes with me knows that I am not a political person. My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship with Donald. “
Yet Belichik has faced repeated calls for the presidential medal of freedom to be waived, given the president’s response to the US Capitol violation.
“This president mocked the presidential medal for freedom,” he said. “Look who he’s been giving it to in recent weeks – people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan – I mean, please. Bill Belichick has to do the right thing and say, ‘No, thank you.'”
Trump has often used the Freedom Medal to reward his allies, whether financial, political, or just old friends. Representatives Nunes and Jordan were two of the president’s most vocal political allies he defended him throughout their impeachment.
Trump has often enjoyed them and has done so for many friends, political donors and athletes over the past four years.
Belicik wrapped up his statement Monday, acknowledging, “I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team.”
“One of the most rewarding things in my professional career happened in 2020, when, through the great leadership in our team, the talks on social justice, equality and human rights came to the fore and became action,” he said.
“Continuing these efforts while remaining loyal to the people, the team and the country I love, outweighs the benefits of each individual award.”
This story was updated with additional information on Monday.
Jim Acosta, Paul LeBlanc, Caitlan Collins, Maegan Vazquez and David Close contributed to this report.