New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced on Monday that he will not receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was scheduled to receive on Thursday.
The six-time Super Bowl-winning coach and a long-time friend of President Donald Trump cited the “tragic events of last week” led to his decision.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.”
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” Belichick continued.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to “the security or national interests of America.”
Belichick, who describes himself as apolitical, wrote Trump a glowing letter during the 2016 presidential campaign praising his courage and leadership.
“I think anybody that’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. My comments aren’t politically motivated,” he said in 2016.
“I have a friendship and a loyalty to Donald.”
Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern agreed with Belichick’s refusal to accept the award.
“This President has made a mockery of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” he said.
“Look at who he is giving it to in the last weeks — people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan — I mean, please. Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say: ‘No thanks.’”
On Saturday, Trump announced that he would be awarding Belichick the nation’s highest civilian honor as part of presentations that also included three golfers: Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.