Sports | January 12, 2021 8:31 am

Bill Belichick’s Refusal of President Trump’s Medal of Freedom Could Prove Crucial for Patriots’ Offseason

Belichick is practicing what he preaches and doing what's best for the team in turning down the honor

Bill Belichick Will Not Accept Presidential Medal of Freedom From Donald Trump
Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots prior a game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Getty Images

In a statement to ESPN on Monday evening, Bill Belichick confirmed he will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.

Though the New England Patriots coach did not make totally clear his reasons for turning down the offer to receive the award from the outgoing president later this week, the statement he released to ESPN’s Adam Schefter denounced the events that unfolded at the Capitol last Wednesday, and referenced Belichick’s “great reverence” for Americas values, freedom and democracy.

Even if he personally wants to accept the award, the nation’s highest civilian honor, Belichick is practicing what he preaches and doing what’s best for his team by turning Trump down.

Were Belichick to accept the honor, the optics of the meeting could be a major issue in a New England locker room that features prominent social-justice advocates like Devin and Jason McCourty. Also, with the Patriots badly in need of talent after going 7-9 this season, Belichick associating with the president could be a decisive factor for any free agents considering New England as a potential landing spot.

Belichick rejecting Trump’s offer also makes sense from an organizational standpoint, as the 68-year-old accepting the award would likely not sit well with much of the New England fan base and would certainly hurt the longtime coach’s reputation in the court of public opinion (whether he cares or not). Also, for an ownership group that still needs help in building a stadium for their soccer team, the New England Revolution, keeping potential political allies like Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Representative Jim McGovern by asking Belichick to take a pass on the prize is not a bad idea.

Prior to Belichick releasing his statement, Markey and McGovern both called on the six-time Super Bowl winner to turn down the award.

“He should just say no,’’ Markey told Boston Public Radio. “That could be the day Donald Trump is being impeached by the United States House of Representatives for inciting an insurgency against the United States. So, Bill Belichick is the greatest football coach of all time . . . but that is not the right day to be accepting the Medal of Freedom award.”

McGovern was more succinct while speaking with CNN. “This president is not fit to be in office, so anything he would bestow on anybody is meaningless and to accept it is disgraceful,” he said.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also weighed in on Twitter:

Created by President Kennedy in 1963, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Given that description, to give the award to Belichick — a football coach — at all, especially after a season in which he finished below .500 and failed to qualify for the playoffs, is a bit confusing. Now that’s a moot point.

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