New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump, according to a report from Politico.
The honor will be one of several Trump reportedly plans to bestow as he prepares to leave office later this month, the report says.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is considered the highest honor an American civilian can receive. According to the White House, the award is given “to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Previous recipients include Steven Spielberg, Angela Merkel, Nancy Reagan, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the sports world, recipients include Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell.
Trump has given the Medal of Freedom to former Celtics star Bob Cousy, as well as Jerry West, Mariano Rivera and Babe Ruth. Most recently, Trump gave the award to golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias (posthumously) on Thursday.
Belichick is a “very good friend” of Trump, according to the President. In August, Trump said he would call Belichick “if I ever had a military battle” to get his opinion.
“He’d be as good as any general out there,” Trump said.
For his part, Belichick said he was “flattered” but added that he would “just stick to coaching football.”
After Trump’s electoral victory in 2016, Belichick wrote him a congratulatory letter, which Trump later read onstage.
“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign,” Belichick wrote, according to Trump. “You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully … You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow.”
Belichick has also been a part of Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.
Per Politico, the Patriots did not respond to a request for comment regarding the reported honor. President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
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