NFL: New England Patriots coach Belichick refuses Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump

NFL: New England Patriots coach Belichick refuses Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick yells from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, California, on Thursday, Dec 10, 2020. (File photo: AP/Ashley Landis)

FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Monday (Jan 11) that he would not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump as planned this week after the "tragic" riot at the United States Capitol last Wednesday.

Belichick, who has guided the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles, said in a written statement that he was "flattered" to be considered for the highest civilian honour in the US but had decided against accepting.

"Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honour represents and admiration for prior recipients," Belichick said in the statement.

"Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award."

Reports at the weekend that Trump planned to honour Belichick on Thursday had sparked calls for the taciturn 68-year-old to refuse it as Trump faces a possible second impeachment for inciting supporters to attack the US Capitol building as legislators confirmed Joe Biden's victory in the November presidential election.

READ: 2022 PGA Championship pulled from Trump golf course

Representative Jim McGovern and Senator Edward J Markey, both Democratic lawmakers from Massachusetts, urged him to turn it down.

"Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, 'No thanks,'" McGovern told the Hill newspaper.

Belichick has been a Trump supporter, calling him the "ultimate competitor and fighter" in a letter that Trump read during a rally during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But, Belichick said in his statement, "Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation's values, freedom and democracy."

He added that "one of the most rewarding things" in his storied career was the emergence of conversations within his team "about social justice, equality and human rights".

"Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award," he said.

Source: AFP/kg