New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the last ally to retreat from Donald Trump after the President’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol last week.
In a statement from ESPN Monday evening, Belichick declined to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump. The legendary coach selected “the tragic events of the last week” for his decision and was apparently referring to the uprising of Trump supporters.
Belichick won six Super Bowls with the Patriots after taking over as coach in 2000. He is the NFL’s most successful active head coach and third on the list of all time.
Belichick publicly supported Trump when he ran for office. He was appointed to the President’s Council on Exercise, Fitness and Nutrition in 2018. The team visited Trump at the White House after winning the Super Bowl in 2017. When it won again in 2019, the Patriots didn’t visit Trump for the following reasons: “Planning conflicts. “
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The New England coach also cited “Conversations on Social Justice, Equality and Human Rights” that took place last year for his decision. “Continuing this effort, while respecting the people, the team, and the county I love, outweighs the benefits of each award,” he said.
Trump has been an outspoken critic of athletes’ statements about social justice since Colin Kaepernick first got on his knees. He criticized the NBA for supporting the protests following George Floyd’s death and wages an ongoing war of words with LeBron James. Before the NFL kick-off this season between Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, Trump struck again.
Below is Belichick’s full explanation.
I was recently offered the opportunity to receive the President’s Medal of Freedom, flattered out of respect for what honor represents and an admiration for past recipients. As a result, the tragic events of the past week occurred and it was decided not to continue the award.
Most importantly, I am an American citizen with a great awe of 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 of my professional career happened in 2020 when the great leadership on our team brought conversations about social justice, equality and human rights to the fore and turned into action. If I continue these efforts while remaining loyal to the people, the team and the county, I will outweigh the benefits of each individual award.
The Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick will not travel to Washington or accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he announced today. pic.twitter.com/uvLLigFlHU
– Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2021
While the White House website states that the award goes to “doers and shakers in a number of areas such as civil service, medicine, journalism, entertainment and business,” the majority of these have given Trump the Medal of Freedom as a sports star. Tiger Woods, Jerry West, Lou Holtz, Roger Penske, Mariano Rivera and Roger Staubach are just a few of them. There were a few political figures like Ed Meese and Orrin Hatch. Among the few entertainment personalities Trump has been honored is Elvis Presley (posthumous)