Bill Belichick will not accept Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump after ‘the tragic events of last week’

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Bill Belichick delivered Donald Trump yet another blow in the final weeks of his presidency.

Trump had planned to award the prolific New England Patriots head coach with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor available to an American civilian — on his way out of office. And though he was “flattered” by the offer, Belichick declined Trump’s proposal in a statement released Monday night out of respect for “our nation’s values” and social justice efforts of 2020.

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“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,” Belichick’s statement read. “Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team, and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

Belichick also cited last week’s insurrection in Washington, D.C., which resulted in a mob of Trump supporters unlawfully breaking into the US Capitol building and holding elected officials captive — as part of his motivation to forgo the honor. 

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“The tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award,” Belichick said. “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,” he added.

Trump has offered multiple sports figures the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his presidency. He played Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” while awarding former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with the honor in 2019. That same year, he gave Tiger Woods the medal for his “relentless will to win, win, win.”

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Belichick has not always taken a firm stance against interacting with Trump since he assumed office in 2017. The longtime head coach joined his championship New England squad on a trip to Trump’s White House in 2017. However, he and the Patriots spurned the offer to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2019 due to scheduling issues, according to a team spokesman.

Check out Belichick’s full statement — per ESPN’s Adam Schefter — below:

 

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