New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced Monday that he has refused to accept a presidential freedom medal from President Trump, citing last week’s deadly riots at the US Capitol. Mr Trump was due to give the 68-year-old the highest civilian honor this week, a White House spokesman told CBS News earlier.
A White House spokesman told CBS News that they had been informed of Belichik’s decision before the Patriots issued a statement. The White House declined to comment.
In a statement received from CBS News, Belicik said he was “flattered” to be able to win the medal, but the Capitol assault, in which many accused Mr Trump of inciting, changed his mind. ESPN was the first to report on Belichick̵
“Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and it was decided not to move forward with the award,” he said. “Above all, I am an American citizen with great respect for the values, freedom and democracy of our nation.”
“I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots,” he added. “One of the most useful things in my professional career happened in 2020, when through the great leadership in our team, the conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and turned into action. Continuing these efforts, remaining loyal to the people, team and country I love, outweigh the benefits of each individual award. “
As Mr Trump ends his final days as president, he plans to present the Belichik Freedom Medal on Thursday, a White House spokesman told CBS News. Belichik, who won six Super Bowls as the Patriots’ head coach, would be the fifth public figure to receive the medal since a stormy mob stormed the Capitol last week.
Three of the winners – former golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and Babe Zacharias – were awarded the medal on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the riot. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a staunch ally of Trump, received the medal Monday.
Many of Mr. Trump’s critics andaccused the president of stirring up the crowd. Democrats in parliament on Monday presented an impeachment resolution accusing Mr Trump of “inciting an uprising” in connection with the January 6 attack.
At least one local lawmaker said earlier Monday that he believes Belichik should stay away from the medal. Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat representing Massachusetts, told CNN that Belichik should turn him down.
“Bill Belichik has to do the right thing and say, ‘No, thank you…’
Mr. Trump thinks highly of Belichik and considers the legendary coach a friend. In the summer, Mr. Trump praised Belichik and even joked that he would seek military advice after being asked whether Belichik cooler or Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady had a better chance of winning the Super Bowl this year.
“This man just knows how to win … You know, if I ever had a military battle, I would call Belichik and say what you think? What do you think? Give me some ideas,” he told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Belichik was recently reappointed to Mr. Trump’s Sports, Fitness and Nutrition Council in December, the CBS Boston said. for all Americans, “his website said.
Christine Brown contributed to this report.