New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he would not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump as planned this week after the “tragic” riot at the US Capitol last Wednesday.
BELICHICK GUIDED THE PATRIOTS TO SIX SUPER BOWL TITLES
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 United States 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.
BILL BELICHICK HAS BEEN A TRUMP SUPPORTER
Bill 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.
GARY PLAYER DID ACCEPT THE AWARD FROM TRUMP
Late last week South Africa’s greatest ever sportsman, Gary Player, controversially accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump.
Player and Trump are said to be friends and Player is one of only 51 people or organisations Trump followed on Twitter before his account was deactivated.