Last week, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick announced that he had declined the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was to receive on Thursday, Jan. 14 from now-former President Donald Trump. Belichick’s reason for declining the honor was due to the “tragic events” that happened two weeks ago when pro-Trump rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Belichick’s full statement on why he declined the medal went as such: “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.”
Belichick had another reason for declining the medal; he not only represented himself, but his fellow players, and the Patriots organization as a whole. Belichick said, “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.” Belichick’s actions may surprise people since, in 2016, he wrote a letter of support to Trump. He later told reporters, when explaining why he wrote the letter, that, “Our friendship goes back many years.”
What is surprising about him declining the medal is his support for players who have been trying to push for social justice under an administration that chooses to ignore it. This shows that his ideals and his player’s ideals are more important than a friendship with someone he doesn’t agree with.
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