Patriots head coach Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom

Monday evening, New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick became the first person in recent history to decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The nation's highest civilian honor was scheduled to be presented to Belichick on Thursday.

In a statement released to the press, Belichick wrote:

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. 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.

One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality, and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to people, team, and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.

The White House has not commented on Belichick's statement. Last week, medals were awarded to golfers Gary Player and Annika Sörenstam one day after the insurrection at the nation's Capitol.