National Football League legend Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump

Ross Houston
January 13, 2021

Donald Trump wanted to award the Patriots coach the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Belichick has declined, per a statement issued to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Five people died in the mayhem, including U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.

Belichick has been under pressure to reject the ceremony after news broke on Sunday in the United States that the former President meant to bestow the honour on the longtime National Football League coach. The six-time Super Bowl-winning coach missed out on the postseason this year for the first time since 2008.

"Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation's values, freedom, and democracy", Belichick included in his statement. But this season the Patriots posted a 7-9 win-loss record without star quarterback Tom Brady, who is gunning for a seventh win with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom last week to golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Didrikson Zaharias. The PGA, for instance, bailed on plans to hold its 2022 championship at a Trump property, citing the toxicity of being associated with the president's brand.

Mr Trump said on Saturday, three days after the riots, he would award Belichick the nation's highest civilian honour.

The NFL coaching legend made the announcement Monday evening. saying he was initially "flattered" to be offered the award - but chose to ultimately turn it down after pro-Trump protesters ransacked D.C. last week.

The 68-year-old Belichick, who was appointed to Trump's Sports & Fitness Council in 2018, was credited countless times in 2020 for taking a more hands-on approach when it came to learning about social justice initiatives and sparking change.

ABC News reached out to the White House for comment.

And the best play call in Bill Belichick's Hall of Fame career. Trump once read a glowing letter about himself written by Belichick at a campaign rally in New Hampshire prior to his being elected president. The House will also hold a Tuesday vote on a resolution that urges Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, according to reports.

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