As his days in the Oval Office come to a close and his circle of friends rapidly thins, President Trump appears to have lost the support of another longtime friend, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Inciting riots is not the patriot way.
Lame-duck Trump was scheduled to present Belichick with the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this week. The list of other notable Trump awardees includes NBA legend Jerry “Mr. Clutch” West, golf great Tiger Woods, and right-wing political pundit Rush Limbaugh. But the NFL coaching legend may have been one of the more personal recipients, and Belichick’s acceptance would likely have been very cherished in this hour.
President Trump and Belichick have historically been very amicable and supportive of one another. In 2016, during Trump’s presidential run, Belichick spoke positively of his relationship with Trump and said, “Our friendship goes back many years, and I think that anybody who’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person.” As recently as last month, Trump reappointed the coach to the White House Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition and even said he would consider taking military advice from Belichick, based on his history of winning.
However, after the fallout from last week’s assault on at the Capitol, Belichick issued a statement that never mentioned Trump by name but declined his friend’s invitation, citing allegiance to the nation over personal accolades or partisanship. “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.”
Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick will not be traveling to Washington nor accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he announced today. pic.twitter.com/uvLLigFlHU
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2021
When news initially broke of the nomination, not everyone was congratulatory. Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern told CNN, “Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say ‘no thanks… To accept it is disgraceful.” Patriots fans themselves have been divided on the matter, some noting Belichick’s deservedness of the award. In contrast, others believe Trump’s presentation of the medal is tarnished by his alleged connection to the assault on the Capitol.
Ultimately, though, Belichick has made it clear where his loyalties lie first: “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… Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team, and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
Photo: Boston Globe / Getty