New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said on Monday that he has declined to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump because of the pro-Trump riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“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,” Belichick said in a statement.
The Patriots coach also said that while he considered himself an “American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” he also represented his “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,” Belichick said. “Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team, and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
Trump was expected to award Belichick on Thursday, leading some lawmakers to publicly call on the Patriots coach to decline the medal.
“I would refuse it if I were Bill Belichick,” Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, told CNN earlier on Monday. “This president has made a mockery of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Look at who he has given it to in the last weeks: people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. I mean, please. Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, ‘No thanks.'”