Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced Monday that “the decision has been made not to move forward” with him receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump this week. Belichick cited “the tragic events of last week,” namely the assault on the U.S. Capitol by armed insurrectionists.
Belichick also pointed to the social justice measures the Patriots took during the 2020 season.
“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 wrote.
Before Monday, though, Belichick was on to Washington, D.C.
The Patriots will be without the opportunity for hardware this postseason, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, only the second time during the Belichick regime. But Belichick was to receive an award of his own.
Trump planned to award the New England head coach with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, per a report from Politico. Belichick and Trump have a longstanding friendship, with Belichick being named to the president’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition in 2018.
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Belichick penned a letter in support of Trump’s presidential victory in 2016, saying that the results would give him an opportunity to “make American great again.”
The news of Trump awarding Belichick the highest civilian honor in the country came amid political turmoil in the nation, with congressional leaders demanding the 25th Amendment be invoked in the final days of the Trump presidency, following Trump’s incitement of insurrectionists at the Capitol building last week.
The U.S. House of Representatives plans to move forward with impeaching Trump on Wednesday if Vice President Mike Pence refuses to invoke the 25th Amendment.
After Trump’s numerous requested recounts in various states, failed lawsuits and congressional affirmation of Electoral College votes, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the nation’s next president on Jan. 20.
Belichick last visited the White House after the Patriots’ Super Bowl 51 victory in 2017, with the team choosing not to make the visit in 2019 following their Super Bowl 53 win.
The Patriots finished 7-9 in 2020, their first losing season since 2000.
This article has been updated with Belichick’s announcement. Tom Gatto contributed to this report.