The response was almost as swift as the announcement. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made clear in a statement released Monday evening that he will not be accepting the Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.
For most Boston.com readers who responded to our survey, Belichick’s statement should come as a huge relief. Out of the more than 4,000 readers who weighed in on whether or not Belichick should have accepted the award from President Trump, 81 percent said no. “Do the right thing Bill,” one reader wrote. Another wrote, “They need to distance themselves from him fast. And come out and condemn his actions.”
While the Patriots’ head coach didn’t go so far to condemn President Trump’s actions—or name him for that matter—Belichick did say the conversations and actions within his team about “social justice, equality and human rights were some ‘of the most rewarding things” in his career, per the statement.
Some of the 19 percent of respondents who did want Belichick to accept the award argued that the Patriots head coach should accept because regardless of the president, he deserved it. One reader wrote, “It’s about the award itself and the awarded, not the person giving it.” John in Worcester wrote, “It’s a much less impressive or influential list than I was expecting from everybody since Kennedy, so go ahead who cares.”
Should Belichick accept the award? Here’s what some readers had to say:
Some responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity
“How does he or any of us tell our kids and grandkids about this tawdry stain on his magnificent career?” —Brad
“He should be 100% focused on building the team for 2021.” —Rich, Stoneham
“Hopefully Belichick is smart enough not to flush his reputation as perhaps the greatest coach in NFL history down the toilet along with his 6 Super Bowl rings. To most here in NE, a Trump-issued MOF is worth less than a Cracker-Jack prize.” —Phil Brodsky, Haverhill
“Trump has soiled the award. It’s now worthless. Why would Belichick want to indulge Trump and be used by him in order to to throw the spotlight off Trump’s foul deeds?”
“Bill being from a military family should know that the Constitution is as sacred to our Democracy as the Bible is to Christianity.”
“It’s the only right and moral thing to do.”
“I’m not a fan of Belichick, but am glad to hear he is rejecting…Donald.”
“Coach made the right decision – class act.”
“As vile as Trump is, the medal itself and what it symbolizes should rise above the politics of the day.”
“The award is a great honor, regardless of who hands it to him.”
“All he is doing is accepting a medal. People need to stay out of his life. He has done plenty for New England – I’m thankful for what he has done.”
“It’s a personal achievement and no one other than BB I feel is more worthy. But because of the nature and it coming from Trump, I have no doubt that BB will turn it down just to avoid the media and political scrutiny for the sake of the Patriots as a team and organization.”
“If I got it for no reason I would accept it. At least he has accomplishments.”
“Coach Belichick deserves the honor no matter who the president is. It’s about Belichick not the president.”
“Yes! Go! Have a good time. Once in a lifetime. Don’t let other people’s opinions color this invitation. Go, enjoy, and come home. Put the award on your mantelpiece over your fireplace. Take some pictures.”
Did Belichick make the right decision turning down the award?