FOXBORO, Massachusetts – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belischek said Monday that he will not “move forward” with the Presidential Medal of Freedom that Donald Trump plans to present to him on Thursday.
Belisik explained his decision in a statement:
“I recently had the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was heartened out of respect for what this honor represents and admiration for its previous recipients. Consequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and no decision was made to proceed with the award.
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great respect for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots. One of the most rewarding things in my career happened in 2020 when, through great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice moved on. Equality and human rights come to the fore and become verbs.
“Continuing these efforts while keeping the loyalty of the people, team and country I love outweighs the benefits of any individual award.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the President’s award to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security of America’s national interests, world peace, or in cultural or other important public or private activities.
The honor to Belisik comes as the US House of Representatives increases pressure to force Trump to step down before the end of his term on January 20, after a pro-Trump gang stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday while Congress was in the process of confirmation. Joe Biden to succeed him.
Trump recently chose several sports figures and political supporters for this honor. Hall of Fame Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player golfers, along with late athlete Pep Diedrickson Zahrias, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday, the day after the siege of the Capitol.
Belisik, 68, just wrapped his 46th NFL season and is 21st as the Patriots coach. He has led the Patriots to six Super Bowl tournaments, joining George Hallas and Curly Lambo as sole coaches with six tournaments since the league started in 1933. Bleshik’s 311 wins (regular season and playoffs combined) are their third ever, behind Don Shula (347) and Helles (324).