New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday night he would not receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying that “stay true to the people, the team and the country I love outweighs the benefits of any individual reward. “
In a one-paragraph statement, the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach did not explicitly say he turned down the offer from US President Donald Trump, explaining instead that “the decision was made not to go from forward with the award ”in the wake of last week’s murderous siege on the US Capitol.
“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which flattered me out of respect for what the honor represents and out of admiration for previous recipients,” the coach said in a statement. press release sent to the Associated Press by the team.
“After that, the tragic events of the past week happened and the decision was made not to go ahead with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom, and democracy. I know I represent my family and the New England Patriots team as well.
Although he describes himself as apolitical, Belichick wrote to Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign which the candidate read aloud at a rally in the days leading up to the election. Belichick said the two were friends.
Trump announced on Saturday that he would award Belichick the country’s highest civilian honor this week as part of a wave of late presentations that also included three golfers: Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.
Sorenstam and Player accepted their awards in a private ceremony the day after the riot on Capitol Hill.