New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will not accept the Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump, per a statement from Belichick on Monday evening.
Belichick did not mention Trump by name in the statement.
“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,” Belichick wrote. “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.”
Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick will not be traveling to Washington nor accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he announced today. pic.twitter.com/uvLLigFlHU
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2021
In 2016, Belichick was supportive of Trump after he won the presidential election. He sent Trump a note congratulating the then-President-elect shortly after Trump’s victory.
“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign,” Belichick wrote, according to Trump — who read the letter onstage at a rally. “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.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a sitting president can offer a citizen. Multiple Massachusetts lawmakers expressed hope Belichick would turn down the award.
“He should just say no,” Senator Ed Markey told Boston Public Radio. “That could be the day that Donald Trump is being impeached in the United States House of Representatives for inciting an insurgency against the United States.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Maura Healey wrote on Twitter that she hoped Belichick considered the “many athletes who are standing up for what’s right.”
At a time when so many athletes and coaches are standing up for what’s right, I hope Bill Belichick will reject this award. https://t.co/mxbZbgrCyH
— Maura Healey (@MassAGO) January 11, 2021
Trump’s final day in office will be Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
Get Boston.com's browser alerts:
Enable breaking news notifications straight to your internet browser.