WASHINGTON (AP) — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he would not be accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday in the wake of the deadly riots at the US Capitol Building last week.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Belichick released the following statement after reports surfaced that he was going to be presented with one of the nation's highest civilian honors on Thursday by President Donald Trump.
"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," Belichick said. "Subsequently the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award."
Trump and Belichick have known each other for several years.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy established the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is awarded by the president to 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.
Last week, Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to Hall of Fame golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player and late Olympian Babe Didrikson, according to The Associated Press.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Player and Sorenstam faced criticism for associating with the president the day after the deadly riots.
Belichick has served on Trump's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition since 2018, according to ESPN.