The New England Patriots football coach has been friendly with Trump, but that didn’t stop him from declining the nation’s highest civilian honor.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick said Monday evening that he will not move forward to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.
There was a report that stated the six-time Super Champion coach would receive the prestigious medal from Trump later this week. However, Belichick said recent events at the U.S. Capitol led him to change his mind.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Belichick said during the summer of protests for social justice in 2020, his team had lots of “conversations” about moving forward in the march for “equality and human rights.”
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick (L) and team owner Robert Kraft (R) present a football helmet to U.S. President Donald Trump during a celebration of the team’s Super Bowl victory in 2017. Belichick has declined the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” the coach continued. “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 the people, team and county I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
Belichick became the Patriots’ head coach in 2000, and he’s won nine AFC championships—with six Super Bowl titles and three runner-up finishes.
Trump and Belichick are known to have enjoyed a cozy relationships, as have upper brass in the Patriots organization.
Trump claims that after he won the presidency during the 2016 campaign, Belichick wrote him a congratulatory letter.
“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully—beautifully,” Trump said of Belichick’s message while speaking to supporters in New Hampshire. Trump continued of Belichick’s letter, “You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow.”
President John F. Kennedy established the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 to honor individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors, according to the White House’s website.
It’s the highest civilian honor in the country.