On Sunday, Politico’s Meredith McGraw reported that U.S. president Donald Trump planned to use one of his last days in office by presenting New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick (seen above coaching against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 28) with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday. That sparked a lot of backlash throughout the sports world in the wake of Trump’s encouragement of the rioters who stormed the Capitol Building last week, which has led to further impeachment proceedings against Trump. And on Monday night, Belichick released a statement saying “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award”:
Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick will not be traveling to Washington nor accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he announced today. pic.twitter.com/uvLLigFlHU
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 12, 2021
It’s certainly notable that this award now isn’t happening, especially given Belichick’s previous relationship with Trump. Belichick wrote a letter of support for Trump during the 2016 election, which Trump read onstage, and the Patriots went to the White House in 2017 following their Super Bowl win. Belichick was also appointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition (alongside many other sports figures) both in 2018 and last month. And this ceremony had looked to be yet one more Trump-Belichick tie. Now, though, that won’t be coming to pass.
[Adam Schefter on Twitter; photo from David Butler II/USA Today Sports]