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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who was expected to receive the presidential medal of freedom later this week, instead denied the honor, citing last week’s violence at the Capitol.
“I was recently offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which flatters me out of respect for what is an honor and admiration for previous recipients,” the six-time Super Bowl legend and early Trump supporter said in a statement to the National Football League late Monday. . “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week took place and it was decided not to move forward with the award.”
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great respect for the nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I represent my family and the New England Patriots team,” the statement said.
The president said he would give Belichik the nation’s highest civic honor this week, days after Trump-backed protesters stormed the Capitol building in Washington.
Trump was expected to honor the White House on Thursday.
Belichik and the president have known each other for years. At a rally before his victory in the 2016 election, Trump even read a “letter of commendation” from the head coach of New England.
Belichick’s decision to deny the honor in the White House is another blow to the increasingly isolated Trump, who in recent days has seen a wave of top advisers leave, also citing violence.
The president’s office did not respond immediately to the coach’s announcement.
In a statement, Belichik said one of the most rewarding experiences of 46 years with the NFL, 21 with the Patriots, was when the team began openly discussing and addressing inequality and social justice issues this season.
“Continuing these efforts while remaining loyal to the people, the team and the country I love, outweighs the benefits of each individual award,” he said.
This president is unfit to be in office, so anything he would give to anyone is pointless.
Thank you, Coach Belichik, for rejecting the Trump award. https://t.co/qyxWJT5VAd
– Representative Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) January 12, 2021
In a statement to CNN on Monday, Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern said Belichik was refusing the award.
“Bill Belichik has to do the right thing and say, ‘No, thank you,'” McGovern said, praising the Patriots’ coach on Twitter Monday night for rejecting the award.