Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom offer from Trump

Bill Belichick
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has announced that he is declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was scheduled to receive from President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Belichick cited the “tragic events of last week” as leading to his decision. Pro-Trump rioters rampaged in the US Capitol last Wednesday. Five people died as a result of the chaos, including a US Capitol Police officer. House Democrats want to impeach Trump, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection.”

“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,” Belichick said in a statement. “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.”

A White House official told CNN the White House was made aware of the decision.

Belichick has been the Patriots’ head coach since 2000 and has won six Super Bowls, a NFL record for a head coach.

In 2016, he wrote a letter of support to Trump.

He told reporters after Trump gushed about the letter: “Our friendship goes back many years. Anybody who spends more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship with Donald.”