BOSTON (WWLP/AP) – Bill Belichick, the head coach for the New England Patriots, on Monday announced he will not be traveling to Washington to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to ESPN.
In a statement, Belichick said in part although he was flattered by what the honor represents and his admiration for prior recipients, “…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,” the New England Patriots head coach stated. Full statement below:
Many patriots fans called for Belichick to decline the award.
“Bill Belichick just being who he is should just deny that,” said Joanne Briggs of West Springfield. “There’s just so many other things that are going on that requires the president’s attention.”
On Sunday, the White House announced President Donald Trump will present one of the nation’s highest civilian honors to Belichick, the only coach to win six Super Bowl titles.
The presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Belichick was expected Thursday.
Trump and Belichick have known each other for several years with Trump before his campaign victory in 2016 reading a letter of praise from Belichick at a New Hampshire rally. Belichick said afterward he was not a political person and that he had “a friendship and loyalty to Donald.”
Belichick is undoubtedly one of the most successful football coaches in NFL history and owns the most wins among active coaches. The Bill Belichick Foundation also provides scholarship and grant funds to help underprivileged youth participate in sports programs.
Politico first reported about the honor for Belichick.