Prior to last Wednesday’s riot in D.C., during which Trump supporters, spurred on by Donald Trump’s months of false claims about the validity of the presidential election, mobbed the Capitol building, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was scheduled to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom this Thursday. On Monday, however, the six-time Super Bowl champion issued a statement announcing that, following “the tragic events of last week,” he would not longer be “moving ahead” with his trip to Washington, D.C., or his plan to accept the honor, the highest a civilian can receive from a president.
“Recently I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” he said in a statement, reported by ESPN. “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,” Belichick continued. “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.”