New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick turns down Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump

In a delicately worded, one-paragraph statement, the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach did not say explicitly that he had turned down the offer from President Donald Trump, whom he has called a friend. Instead, Belichick explained, “the decision has been made not to move forward with the award” in the wake of last week's deadly siege on the US Capitol.

The Associated Press January 12, 2021 09:08:58 IST
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick turns down Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump

File image of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. AP

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced on Monday night that he will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying “remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

In a delicately worded, one-paragraph statement, the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach did not say explicitly that he had turned down the offer from President Donald Trump, whom he has called a friend. Instead, Belichick explained, “the decision has been made not to move forward with the award” in the wake of last week's deadly siege on the US Capitol.

Trump announced on Saturday, three days after the riots, that he would be awarding Belichick the nation’s highest civilian honor — part of a late flurry of presentations that also included golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.

Sorenstam and Player accepted their awards in a private ceremony the day after Trump supporters stormed the US Senate and House of Representatives. Five people died in the mayhem, including US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Belichick was to be honored on Thursday.

“I was flattered... out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” the coach said in a statement, which was forwarded to The Associated Press by the Patriots.

“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.”

Although he describes himself as apolitical, Belichick has waded into politics on occasion.

The architect of the Patriots dynasty wrote Trump a letter of support that the candidate read aloud the night before the 2016 election at a rally in New Hampshire, a bastion of the team's fandom.

Although Trump said the letter offered “best wishes for great results” on election day and “the opportunity to make America great again,” Belichick said it was it was merely to support a friend.

Belichick also wore an Armenian flag pin to the White House in 2015 when the team celebrated its fourth Super Bowl victory — believed to be a sign of support for the team’s director of football, Berj Najarian, who is of Armenian descent. Last month, Belichick called on the US government to take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan for “unprovoked and violent attacks against Armenians.”

In the aftermath of George Floyd's death this summer, Patriots players praised Belichick for providing an open forum for them to express their feelings on race and social injustice in America. In his statement on Monday, Belichick called that “one of the most rewarding things in my professional career.”

“Through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions,” he said. "Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

Updated Date:

also read

Madison Keys warms up for Australian Open by beating Alison Riske in all-American Adelaide International final
Sports

Madison Keys warms up for Australian Open by beating Alison Riske in all-American Adelaide International final

Keys never allowed her compatriot a look into the contest powering her way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory in just over an hour to claim her sixth WTA title

Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in French Open after France passes new vaccine law
Sports

Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in French Open after France passes new vaccine law

The ministry said a new vaccine pass, approved by the French parliament on Sunday, "applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice."

India Open 2022: PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen enter semi-finals with contrasting wins
Sports

India Open 2022: PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen enter semi-finals with contrasting wins

Top seed Sindhu, a former world champion, took 36 minutes to get the better of 21-year-old Chaliha 21-7 21-18 and set up a last-four clash with Thailand's Supanida Katethong, seeded sixth.