Bill Belichick received mostly praise on social media for his decision to reject President Trump’s offer to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honor in the U.S.
The New England Patriots was praised on Twitter for breaking with his longtime friend. Former Sen. Jeff Flake, longtime Boston sports columnist Bob Ryan and actress Mia Farrow were among those in Belichick’s corner.
He cited the riot at the U.S. Capitol as the reason why he was going to decline the offer.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“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 county I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
The president recently re-appointed Belichick to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition last month. It is the coach’s second term on the council.
Belichick is the son of a World War II veteran and grew up in Annapolis, Md. Steve Belichick coached college football for 34 years at Navy.
Recently, sports figures Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, Babe Zaharias, Roger Staubach and Dan Gable received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.