New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will not accept the Presidential Medal Of Freedom this week as scheduled. Belichick declined the chance to receive the honor from lame-duck President Donald Trump.
The 6-time Super Bowl champion made the decision after last Wednesday’s failed coup attempt by Trump supporters. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the pro-Trump rioters storming the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were in the process of certifying President-Elect Joe Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory.
Belichick released a statement that reads:
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.
There is mounting pressure for the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach and the U.S. Senate to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection. Right before the riots, the president gave an incendiary speech to his MAGA crowd that many Americans believe inflamed a mob and put the lives of Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, members of Congress, and law enforcement in danger.
Belichick is a self-professed longtime friend of Donald Trump. In 2016, he said, “Our friendship goes back many years. Anybody who spends more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald.”