Top American National Football League (NFL) coach Bill Top American National Football League (NFL) coach Bill Belichick has declined President Donald Trump’s offer of the Presidential Medal of Freedom which he was scheduled to receive from US President Donald Trump on Thursday, January 14th, 2020.
Belichick, of the New England Patriots, said he was flattered when he was first offered the medal – the top award given to civilians in the US saying he will not accept, citing the US Capitol riot.
.But he said he changed his mind after a mob of Trump supporters stormed Congress last week. Five people died.
A White House official told CNN the White House was made aware of the decision.
Belichick has been the Patriots’ head coach since 2000 and has won six Super Bowls, a NFL record for a head coach.
In 2016, he wrote a letter of support to Trump. He told reporters after Trump gushed about the letter: “Our friendship goes back many years. Anybody who spends more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship with Donald.”
Still, Belichick had faced repeated calls to decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom given the President’s response to the US Capitol breach.
Belichick concluded his statement Monday acknowledging, “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,” he said.
“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
In 2019 Mr Trump gave the award to golfer Tiger Woods, as well as radio personality Rush Limbaugh and posthumously Elvis Presley.
Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern said earlier Monday that Belichick should “refuse it.”
“This President has made a mockery of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” he said. “Look at who he is giving 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.'”