New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Declines Presidential Medal of Freedom

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a New England Patriots presented to him by Head Coach Bill Belichick (L) during an event honoring the Super Bowl champion team at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he will not “move forward” with the Presidential Medal of Freedom that Donald Trump planned to present to him on Thursday.

Belichick explained his decision in a statement:

“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. 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. 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.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is awarded by the president to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security of national interests of America, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

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SOURCE: ESPN, Mike Reiss

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