New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is putting his country above himself in turning down receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s higest civilian honor — because it would be presented to him by Donald Trump. The most winning Super Bowl HC released a statement on Jan. 11, saying that “I was flattered…out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients.” But Trump inciting a large group of supporters to riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — in which five people died — has changed Bill’s mind about wanting to accept the honor from Trump, 74.
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
The 68-year-old continued in his statement, “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.” Fans, sportscasters and former players applauded Belichick’s decision.
Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi — who Belichick coached for 13 season — tweeted, “Proud to have played for this man…” while ESPN Sportscaster Skip Bayless shared, “Good for Bill Belichick.” Dale Arnold, who hosts Boston Bruins hockey games for the New England Sports Network wrote, “You cannot handle this better than Bill Belichick did tonight. You can be sure the players on his team love this.” Famed Harvard Law professor and Patriots fan Lawrence Tribe tweeted, “Good for him! Go Pats!!”
Proud to have played for this man…
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.” – Bill Belichick
— Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschi) January 12, 2021
Kudos to Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who won't accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump.
No one else should accept the Medal of Freedom from Trump.
Everyone who has already received it from Trump should return it.
Coming from Trump it is a badge of dishonor.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) January 12, 2021
Fred Guttenberg — whose daughter Jaime died in the Parkland school massacre wrote, “In any other moment in life, I would be explaining to anyone who would listen why I hate Bill Belichick. Yes, I am a Miami Dolphins fan. Not tonight. Today I am a Bill Belichick fan. Thank you Coach for standing up for America today.” Legendary former Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan tweeted, “Congratulations, Bill Belichick. You have Done The Right Thing.” The day prior when it was announced that Bill was receiving the honor, Bob wrote, “If this story about Bill Belichick accepting a Medal of Freedom from the disgraced occupant of the White House is true, he’s dead to me. Say it ain’t so, Bill. I sincerely hope this is Fake News.”
As a sad sad sad Jets fan I’m not sure if I’m legally allowed to say a nice thing about Bill Belichick so I’ll try to even it out.
HEY BILL BELICHICK FUCK YOU AND THE PATS IN GENERAL BUT ALSO I GREATLY RESPECT YOU FOR THIS YOU SON OF A BITCH!!! https://t.co/hEYcXZf4Y6
— Philip DeFranco 👊🏻 (@PhillyD) January 12, 2021
Belichick even referenced in his statement how the Black Lives Matter movement also helped influence his decision. “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 county I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award,” he wrote.
Belichick was due to receive the honor on Jan. 14. He has had a friendly relationship with Trump over the years, as has Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former quarterback Tom Brady. Belichick and Trump have golfed together, and Trump even said he would call Belichick for battle strategy if he went to war. During an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show on Aug. 11, 2020, Trump said, “You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say what do you think? What do you think? Give me a couple of ideas. And he’d be as good as any general out there.”