Bill Belichick declined to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump, seemingly breaking from a friendship with the billionaire business mogul.
Belichick put out a statement Monday after a report surfaced he would receive it later this week.
"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."
Belichick’s claim to fame is winning six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots after he took the helm in 2000. Trump and Belichick’s relationship came into a clearer picture after Trump revealed that Belichick wrote to him before his election.
"Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully – beautifully," Trump told New Hampshire supporters when sharing Belichick's message in 2016, via NBC Sports Boston. "You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow."
Trump said this past August that he would phone Belichick for advice if he needed assistance in a military battle. The president also 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.