BEVERLY HILLS, January 13, (THEWILL) – The New England Patriots, a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston area and who compete in the National Football League are in the news on account of their head coach, Bill Belichick.
The 68-year-old announced on Monday that he has declined a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honour, from President Donald Trump. Belichick cited last Wednesday’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol as the basis for his decision to decline the honour that was billed for this week.
The coach’s decision was communicated to the White House before the Patriots released a statement to that effect to the public.
In his own personal statement, Belichick considered it flattering to have had the opportunity to receive the medal, but the insurrection of the Capitol, which many have accused President Trump of inciting, was pivotal to him changing his mind.
The coach explained: “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.”
In the final few days of President Trump’s time in office, the award ceremony to honour Belichick with the Medal of Freedom was one of the items on the President’s agenda, for a coach that had led the Patriots to six Super Bowls.
Had Belichick not declined, he would have been the fifth public figure to receive the medal after the violent mob stormed the Capitol last week. In fact, three of the honorees, former golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and Babe Zaharias, got their honours on Thursday, which was less than 24 hours after the riot. And, on Monday, Trump decorated Republican Congressman and one of his staunchest allies, Jim Jordan, with his own medal.
However, critics and lawmakers from both parties have pointed accusing fingers at the president for stirring up the mob that stormed the Capitol. On Monday, Democrats in the House unveiled an impeachment resolution that accused President Trump of “incitement of an insurrection” tied to the attack.
Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat representing Massachusetts, believed it was only responsible for coach Belichick to refuse the honour.
“Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, ‘No thanks’… To accept it as disgraceful,” McGovern said.
The coach is regarded very highly by the President. Trump even considers the legendary coach a friend. There are reports that have quoted Trump showering Belichick with uncommon praise and Trump had previously joked that he often sought the coach out for military advice.
“This guy just knows how to win…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,” Trump once said on occasion to radio host Hugh Hewitt.