Citing the recent attack on the Capitol, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced his refusal of the Medal of Freedom. In a statement released Monday evening, in which neither the president nor political parties are mentioned, Belichick further explained why he will not be accepting the award, even though he did feel honored to receive it. “Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” the statement reads. He also mentioned the social justice forums he opened up between him and his team following the killing of George Floyd and said that it was one of the most rewarding moments of his career. “Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award,” he went on to say.
On Sunday, after news broke that Belichick would be offered the award, some weighed in on whether or not he should accept. Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern told CNN: “This president has made a mockery of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” and urged Belichick to refuse. McGovern spoke about the numerous Medals of Freedom that President Trump has been awarding to allies of his. CNN writes: “Trump has often used the Medal of Freedom to reward his allies, whether they be financial, political or just old friends.” McGovern specifically cited the awards to David Nunes and Jim Jordan, both of whom where outspoken in defense of Trump during impeachment proceedings. Belichick’s award was announced along with golfers Anika Sorenstam and Gary Player.
Most fans seem to support Belichick’s choice. Boston.com reported the results of a poll taken, and found that 81% of respondents agreed that he should refuse the medal. “To most of us here in New England, a Trump-issued Medal of Freedom is worth less than a cracker-jack prize,” one respondent noted. “It’s the only right and moral decision,” said another respondent. However, some felt that the honor could be separated from the president giving it. “As vile as Trump is, the medal itself and what it symbolizes should rise above the politics of the day,” a respondent wrote.
Although Belichick has often described himself as apolitical, he has also said that he and Trump are old friends and even wrote a letter of support in 2016 during his first presidential bid. However, the coach said that the letter was just support for a friend, and not a matter of politics.