New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick declined to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday after last week’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement, Belichick said he was flattered to be offered the medal, the country’s highest civilian honor, but said the “tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.”
Belichick, who’s coached the Patriots for 21 years and has won six super bowls, said that “above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.”
He added that “conversations” and “actions” about “social justice, equality and human rights” that occurred earlier in the year were among the most rewarding in his career.
“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award,” he said.
Earlier Monday, Trump awarded the medal to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, an ally who helped defend the president against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
Last week, another Trump ally, California Rep. Devin Nunes, was also given the award, and on the day after the Jan. 6 riot, the president presented the medal to three pro golfers.
The medal, established in 1963, is given to people who have “made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.
Monday’s announcement came one day after the Professional Golfer’s Association of America said its 2022 championship would not be held at President Donald Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Peter Alexander contributed.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he won’t accept Presidential Medal of Freedom The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ NBC News.