(NEXSTAR) – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has declined to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump, according to a statement obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Belichick said he was initially “flattered” because of his “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,” Belichick stated. “Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.”
The eight-time Super Bowl winner went on to say that he experienced one of the most rewarding things in his professional career during 2020 when “conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions.”
Belichick has known President Trump for years, with Trump appointing him to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition last month.
“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award,” Belichick said.