Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom

Donald Trump Hosts Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots At The White House
Getty Images

A man known for making great coaching decisions has made a great one away from the football field.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has decided to decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“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 past recipients,” Belichick said in a statement issued Monday night. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.

“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s value, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots football team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefit of any individual award.”

The carefully crafted statement, including among other things deft use of the passive voice regarding Belichick’s decision to punt on the award, makes a very important point without directly saying it. Belichick now believes that the man he openly supported for the office of the presidency in 2016 has behaved in a way that cannot be reconciled with notions of social justice, equality, and human rights. Thus, Belichick cannot reconcile accepting a significant individual honor with his obligations to his family and his football team.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Sometimes, that pen cuts deepest when its blade is perceived as being dull.

185 responses to “Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom

  1. It’s not often I would say anything positive about Belechick but this is once I will…great decision Bill. 👍

  2. Stunned. Belichick has always been the kind of man who could not care less about “optics”. He’s been his own man, and never cared about public opinion (se: Butler, Malcolm).

  3. Thank you Belichick. You have gained even more admiration in the world both in and out of sports.

  4. Someone who grew up that close to Navy history knows what the Presidential Medal of Freedom means, and what it doesn’t. The choice was obvious.

  5. I have always sort of, well…..,,hated BB, but honestly this is quite a statement and my hat is off to him for placing his values above an award. Regardless of what your political position is, you’ve got to respect people of character.

  6. I am not his biggest fan yet it must be said that, once again, Bellichick is a winner.

  7. Good. Once Ellen got one it became the Pro Bowl of politics. Just one big popularity contest.

  8. No NFL player, coach, or executive deserves this award anyway, not since the NFL started sucking up to BLM. Kudos to Coach Belichick for understanding.

  9. Everything we’ve come to learn about BB says he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. To make this decision says a lot. The football fan in me dislikes him, but today I dislike him a lot less.

  10. No matter what you think of Bill Belichick-yes talking directly folks who write nonsense like good call you did not deserve is…..it is a major statement and positive use of his platform to make change. The Patriots have been one of those teams that do care about social injustices. Beichick and his players have been vocal advocates for making a better world for all. It would be great if all folks with influence cared more. That being said- I still cannot stand him as a competitor.

  11. The only people who doubted this would be those that dislike him. Outside of being interviewed this guy understands what is going on. Good for you Bill You dont need any award to promote your achievements

  12. Belichick makes a strong statement and commitment to racial justice and to country over personal honors.

  13. I tuned Belichick out years ago when he first befriended Trump, whom I thought to be a dangerous liar. If Belichick is now trying to help this country right a long overdue national wrong, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Thank you Bill.

  14. Kicked off Twitter, facebook, and instagram
    Shunned by the PGA
    Lost the popular vote twice
    Lost reelection by a wide margin
    and…snubbed by Bill Bellicheck.
    Loser Loser Loser. And Traitor.

  15. He did the right thing, but to say it has nothing to do with him taking a crazy amount of flak is simply wrong.

  16. Congrats on not running into a burning builing. Not a hero. You supported him 4 years ago and he was the same guy then. He is just more harmful to your brand now.

  17. What happened last week was an appalling act by a desperate, deranged lunatic. The people who support him somehow consider themselves patriots, when, in fact, they’re traitors. Kudos to BB and others who have taken a stand against them in the name of our great country.

  18. Belichick has improved his standing in my eyes. I’m glad to know he doesn’t support disobedience fueled by ignorance.

  19. Smart move by Belchick. Regardless of the reason, Bill knows his coaching days are numbered, but his GM days are not. If black players feel he’s too tied to Trump and his following, it could hurt his ability to sign players in New England. After watching the Pats this season without Brady, he knows it’s going to be a harder sell regardless.

  20. “It doesn’t look good for me to accept this award in public. You can still send it to me in the mail.” —Thanks. Bill.

  21. So he doesn’t respect the office of the President of the United States. What a tool.

  22. You can’t always base respect on concrete things such as awards. Way to go, Bill.

  23. Whoever who believes that he declined for anything other than PR/optics…Ive got a bridge to see you!

  24. He would have taken it in a second if he wouldn’t have lost the locker room. Political reason for not accepting a political award

  25. lemmetalkwouldya says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:36 pm
    Stunned. Belichick has always been the kind of man who could not care less about “optics”. He’s been his own man, and never cared about public opinion (se: Butler, Malcolm).
    —–
    Exactly. Which tells you Belichek’s decision comes down to more than mere optics.

  26. “They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Sometimes, that pen cuts deepest when its blade is perceived as being dull.” Gotta say, for a lawyer, Florio writes really well.

  27. Good things tend to happen when we practice the art of conversation. In this case it was a thoughtful response. No finger-pointing or back-handed insults.

  28. Aw, C’mon, you give Bill too much credit. He knows there was no way he could accept now without showers of boos from all the SJW’s. iI fact they would probably consider him a candidate for firing if he did. It’s an award that nobody could accept now and Bill knows that. He got the brownie points out of it anyway by turning it down, and has a few Lombardi’s to console himself anyway. Once you win a few of them, why, this prize probably doesn’t mean much to him.

  29. ragnarthegreat says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:45 pm
    I have always sort of, well…..,,hated BB, but honestly this is quite a statement and my hat is off to him for placing his values above an award. Regardless of what your political position is, you’ve got to respect people of character
    ——————
    Bill Belichik as a person of character? The biggest cheater in the history of the NFL? Laughable.

  30. Comments and thumbs here are running about 3 to 1 in favor of this decision. I just want to note that in light of the fact that the community here was more pro-Trump than any other place I’ve been online.

  31. Wouldn’t it be Biden that gives it to him tho? Or is that who he objects to receiving it from? Im confused here which way he took his stance.

  32. lemmetalkwouldya says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:36 pm
    Stunned. Belichick has always been the kind of man who could not care less about “optics”. He’s been his own man, and never cared about public opinion (se: Butler, Malcolm).

    ————————
    And the fact is he also never says what he is thinking. Its entirely possible he just wanted an excuse to stay home and work on his boat during this short break he gets.

  33. I could tell he didn’t write this statement cause the sentences had more than 5 words in them!

  34. What a patriot! Bill passively accepts and is ok with an evidence-based and proven corrupt, stolen presidential election. Bill is no different from the other blind sheep and ostriches with their heads in the ground.

  35. He had no choice if he ever wanted to coach in the league again. Sad that our country has come to this.

  36. Loser. His time without Brady is over.. He’ll be exposed as the mediocre coach he’s always been.

  37. I think it has more to do with retaining his current players interest in playing for the Patriots and him as coach, as well as attracting any future free agents than anything else. If he was retired, probably would have accepted the metal.

  38. I will never understand why leaders award medals to actors or sports figures. It wreaks of sucking up to celebrity and is a slap in the face of those who truly risk their lives everyday to serve this country.
    I think any doctor or nurse who is working countless hours caring for patients in a pandemic while potentially exposing themselves to infection are far more deserving than a football coach.

  39. I read this differently. I read it as “I would have accepted, but it would create a lot of trouble for me with my players, bosses and fans, therefore out of self-preservation, I will decline”

  40. Like he really had a choice. If he would of took the honor MSM, this site among them, Dems and half the players in the NFL would of went bat sh%t crazy…

  41. A couple of idle thoughts:

    1. Bill deserved this award. He countless hours of off the record work with prisoners, his foundation, his Armenian cause, and of course he life long work with the armed services in general and Navy in particular qualify him for the highest civilian award of the land.

    2. OF COURSE he shouldn’t accept it. How could he from a man who in just the last week undermined everything that Bill believes in. How could he accept an award from a man who just gave it out to 2 political hacks and his golfing buddies.

    3. He SHOULD have refused it yesterday. This was a no brainer decidsion. It shouldn’t have even take a day to rebuke this offer from this agent of the Russian Government.

  42. BB did it because he doesn’t want to get involved in politics, much to all you enjoy.

    BB didn’t choose anyone’s side except his own.

  43. Why is it a “great decision”?

    Have some onions and just accept the award. Why is everyone so afraid of orange man?

  44. I have more respect for this then what he has done in football. Love for our country is what freedom is all about. Bill

  45. Thumbs up! In the current situation, declining the medal was the only sensible move. I hope in a year or two, after things settle down, president Biden makes the offer and Belichick accepts.

  46. I need to know when he knew he was offered the reward. You get no respect for only declining after 5 lives were lost. You get no credit for jumping off the Trump ship after it has already sunk.

  47. Good decision by Belichick, but I’m a little foggy on why any President would think a flippin’ football coach should be given the Medal of Freedom.

  48. Those who tumbs down, supported Trump and his inciting violence should move to another country. We don’t care. Bill did the right thing. AMEN

  49. His written comments regarding the decision was very good. Regardless of his ultimate decision, he was going to be left in a terrible position. The comments focused on his not accepting the individual award when circumstances surrounding the entire political situation and current atmosphere would poorly reflect on the Patriots, the NFL and his family. I respectfully agree with him.

  50. 100% he did the right thing and for the right reason. 100% he also gets it awarded to him again by a different president at some point in the future.

  51. He wanted the award, but didn’t take it because it wouldn’t benefit him personally…full stop.

  52. Whilst clearly the right decision, anyone who has enabled, supported or vouched for the outgoing president deserves absolutely no credit for disavowing him now. Their actions and endorsements, whether being visible or silently complicit, should follow them for the rest of their lives in line with the impact this administration has inflicted on so many.

  53. Two thumbs up for a REAL Patriot.

    _____________________________________________________________________________

    He’s already met Trump,and visited the White House before. and was a supporter. Just OPTICS. A lot of others will due the same.

  54. He’s just looking at his future in coaching. That medal would have been an anvil around his neck when it came time to recruit. Let’s be real about this.

  55. Great decision. What about all of the other NFL Trump followers.. Favre, Brady, Brees eerily silent.

  56. I’m a Bills fan and this might be the first time I’ve ever applauded for Bill Belichick. 👏 👏 👏

  57. Even more encouraging than that is the overwhelming ratio of “likes” on the comments supporting BB. Still too many who seem to favor the idea that this isn’t a significantly consequential moment in history. BB won’t be remembered in alignment with the wrong people.

  58. This first ballot Hall-of-Fame coach has not always made Hall-of-Fame decisions, but this one qualifies.

  59. Bill doesn’t like media attention or causing unnecessary distractions. …Accepting would violate both those ideals.

  60. I guess he, like the majority of the US support BIDEN over TRUMP. We the people have spoken and voted, now so has Bill

  61. THATS MY COACH STANDING FOR HIS PLAYERS!!! Putting my Bostonian native sport bias aside…more respect to Bill.

    As a NAVY man, I would love to sit and drink beers with bill while discussing his dads navy coaching days. I would sit in awe of the stories about army navy, academy practice and prep

  62. You know, Kaepernick was told to “go find another country” because he peacefully protested. Will BB be told the same thing? What about the violent rioters who stormed the Capitol?

    It’s almost like there’s a double standard.

  63. Great move Bill. I was one of your biggest critics regarding Brady leaving, but will let that go now because this country is more important than our fandom. Thank you

  64. I guess he felt he couldn’t live up to the legacies of Rush Limbaugh, Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, and those three people ‘just playing through’ at Trump’s golf course…

  65. The Presidential Medal of Freedom has been debased when it is awarded to partisan sycophants like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. Bill’s respectful refusal to be used as a prop is a step in the direction of restoring the honor and integrity the medal has traditionally signified.

  66. Looking at the thumbs on this so far and thinking, “Way to go, PFT commenters.”

    Given his appreciation for American history and what this would have meant for his place in it, this must have been somewhat difficult. In the end, I think his decision puts his legacy on even better footing.

  67. mercilesssaint says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:43 pm
    Someone who grew up that close to Navy history knows what the Presidential Medal of Freedom means, and what it doesn’t. The choice was obvious.
    ———————————————————-
    You know NOT what you speak of….. I suggest going back and doing more research

  68. Wow. Here it is. Something positive about Bill. I never thought I would be on his side about anything. Way to be a Patriot Bill. Your country is proud of you.

  69. We need a healer now more than ever. We need to take stock of who we are and wish to be. I dont see either side being even remotely capable of that. At least Bill stuck to his values. I salute him for that.

  70. Bill did the right thing. The statement he released couldn’t have been more of a rebuke to the traitor in chief. I wonder if he read it at all or was just told it’s not happening. People will look back and realize that this was a phony effort to distract and lend credibility. Bill didn’t take the bait and essentially accused him, and his supporters, of violating what it means to be American. Thank you again Bill!

  71. In the last few years the Presidential Medal of Freedom has been reduced to a cheap Cracker Jack trinket, being handed out to people who never deserved it.

  72. Well done, coach. My guess is that President Biden, recognizing not only your football accomplishment but also your demonstration of integrity and character, will offer you a Medal of Freedom you can accept. I hope so.

  73. I will never understand why leaders award medals to actors or sports figures. It wreaks of sucking up to celebrity and is a slap in the face of those who truly risk their lives everyday to serve this country.

    ———

    In this case, the man doing the awarding is a celebrity, it’s half the reason he got elected and why people follow him. This country has a long history of celebrity worship, it’s pretty pathetic

  74. This was an easy call for Belichick. If he accepts the award from Trump he is essentially done as an NFL coach. Not even Belichick, with all of his accomplishments, could withstand the pushback he would receive from a perceived positive relationship with someone as toxic as Trump. No NFL player would want to play for him.

  75. lemmetalkwouldya says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:36 pm
    Stunned. Belichick has always been the kind of man who could not care less about “optics”. He’s been his own man, and never cared about public opinion (se: Butler, Malcolm).
    ___________________

    This doesn’t compare in any way to football decisions.

  76. mhouser1922 says:
    Well done, coach. My guess is that President Biden, recognizing not only your football accomplishment but also your demonstration of integrity and character, will offer you a Medal of Freedom you can accept. I hope so.
    ——————————–
    Character?! There’s a few things I would applaud BB for, but character sure isn’t one of them. He cheated on his first wife, then dumped her. Spygate was a documented flaunting of the rules. And remember, he endorsed this President at the beginning, when anyone who didn’t have their head in the sand could see he was a low-life criminal… So, let’s leave character out of the discussion, shall we?

  77. jetsfan2369 says:
    January 11, 2021 at 9:58 pm
    Whoever who believes that he declined for anything other than PR/optics…Ive got a bridge to see you!
    ———————
    Well said, jetsfan — so close to English! You’ll get’em next year!

  78. this was a no brainer. Who would go after him for turning it down versus the crapola he would have gotten from accepting. Nice speech though.

  79. Just like everything else we have witnessed this year. Whatever is the flavor of the day everyone jumps on the band wagon.. Even the writers on this site.

  80. A. Belichick has always preached placing team goals over individual achievement as well as eliminating distractions. At this point in time, the award would have been accepted at the cost of alienating most of his locker room, and it was also creating an unnecessary distraction. Clearly not an easy decision because Belichick knows the true meaning of the medal, but not unexpected given his focus on football. In the end, it’s likely the right decision.

    B. The narrative that Trump has cheapened the award given who he has handed it out to is not entirely accurate. Take a look at the previous couple of administrations and who received the award. Belichick hasn’t exactly changed the course of our nation’s history but his contributions and accomplishments to sports/culture definitely clears the bar compared to others.

  81. Sure “Hey Bill, you’ve really done a nice job, and you always ‘Do your job”. Here’s a medal.”
    “No Thanks, How about you though? Shouldn’t You be “doing YOUR job?” (COVID vaccine distribution, security of the transition, stimulus, press conferences).

  82. Those who are saying things like this:

    lemmetalkwouldya says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:36 pm
    Stunned. Belichick has always been the kind of man who could not care less about “optics”. He’s been his own man, and never cared about public opinion (se: Butler, Malcolm).

    or that he’s a “coward”

    I would suggest that you look at his body of work and rethink it…

    If – he has never been “afraid” or “never cared about public opinion”

    Then – you can assume that he is still “not afraid” and still “doesn’t care about public opinion” and that maybe he is doing this for the right reasons, a patriotic duty to our country. As mention, he is a team-first person, who is not afraid to make decisions and take responsibility for them.

    It’s ok for people who have supported trump to reconsider their support in light of recent events. Even if you supported him right up until [insurrection day] you can step back and reassess and a grateful nation will accept you back as part of our participatory democracy.

  83. Wow, I have a newfound respect for Bellicheck that I never had before. Absolute stand up move. Good show sir.

  84. bsandersupthesidelinecutsbackinside says:
    January 11, 2021 at 10:00 pm
    Trump is the Rich Kotite of politics.

    16 5 Rate This
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Now why would you say such a mean thing about Rich Kotite? Even Rich wasn’t THAT bad.

  85. I wonder how much better his statement would have been if he had Tom Brady write it with him?

  86. Good for him. Trump has been bastardizing the award so that it no longer has the prestige it had before.

  87. You act like “social justice” is a good thing. Any time you put a qualifier on “justice” it ceases being justice. Social justice is a replacement of one type of injustice for another. It has its roots in Marxism, and does not advance equality. It is about taking opportunities from one person and giving them to another because someone was born wrong or born right. There is nothing just about that.

  88. He clearly would have accepted this if he knew there would have been no backlash. Joke to anyone who is congratulating him for not committing professional and social suicide!

  89. This comment is entirely wrong: “You act like “social justice” is a good thing. …..”

    Social justice recognizes institutional, social harms imposed on groups unfairly and seeks to redress wrongs. period.
    Examples: Voting Rights act, Civil Rights, Equal Rights, Equal Employment Opportunity, Non-discrimination provisions in housing, employment. Marriage equality. LGBTQ rights.

  90. cma1973 says:
    Weak, simply bending to the mob.
    —————————
    Or maybe he doesn’t want to be associated with someone that is so blatant a criminal that he feels the need to grant a pardon to himself and pretty much anyone he’s ever had contact with…

  91. It appears BB is afraid of something –> Cancel Culture that is running rampant if you disagree with media agenda

  92. Social justice recognizes institutional, social harms imposed on groups unfairly and seeks to redress wrongs. period.

    ——————

    Perceived wrongs. Sometimes they are real injustices; but often they are claimed injustices with no evidence behind them.

    Social Justice aims to redress wrongs by wronging others. Instead of working to get everyone equal opportunities by adding opportunities for those with few, it aims to take opportunities from others to level the playing field.

    Any ideology that aims to limit and suppress a group because of their skin color or gender is not a just cause. I understand that many social justice defenders think that they are giving new opportunities to those that need them, but like I said, the way to do that is not by taking from others because those people were born wrong. At least not in a just, sane, and healthy world.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But I am not even sure that most people who push this ideology have good intentions.

  93. ariani1895 says:
    It appears BB is afraid of something –> Cancel Culture that is running rampant if you disagree with media agenda
    ——————–
    Or maybe he doesn’t want to be seen getting an award from someone who is about to be indicted for a bunch of felonies…

  94. lastwordonpft says:
    January 12, 2021 at 12:39 pm
    ariani1895 says:
    It appears BB is afraid of something –> Cancel Culture that is running rampant if you disagree with media agenda
    ——————–
    Or maybe he doesn’t want to be seen getting an award from someone who is about to be indicted for a bunch of felonies…
    _______

    Won’t happen.

  95. These Florio takes are so predictable,

    Maybe anyone who supported the President should wheee special emblems on their clothes so that people can identify them better

  96. “Perceived wrongs. Sometimes they are real injustices; but often they are claimed injustices with no evidence behind them.

    Social Justice aims to redress wrongs by wronging others. Instead of working to get everyone equal opportunities by adding opportunities for those with few, it aims to take opportunities from others to level the playing field.

    Any ideology that aims to limit and suppress a group because of their skin color or gender is not a just cause. I understand that many social justice defenders think that they are giving new opportunities to those that need them, but like I said, the way to do that is not by taking from others because those people were born wrong. At least not in a just, sane, and healthy world.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But I am not even sure that most people who push this ideology have good intentions.”
    ___________

    What opportunities have been taken away from you or anyone else? How does granting equal rights to all “limit” or “suppress” you in any manner?

    Name one opportunity or right that has denied you because of the advancement of by the social justice movement.

  97. Maybe anyone who supported the President should wheee special emblems on their clothes so that people can identify them better

    ————

    They already wear hats, shirts, flags, coats, boots, and drive cars that identify them. What else do they need???

  98. ariani1895 says:
    January 12, 2021 at 12:53 pm
    lastwordonpft says:

    ariani1895 says:
    It appears BB is afraid of something –> Cancel Culture that is running rampant if you disagree with media agenda
    ——————–
    Or maybe he doesn’t want to be seen getting an award from someone who is about to be indicted for a bunch of felonies…
    ____
    Won’t happen.
    ———————-
    Stay tuned. The New York Attorney General, and the Manhattan DA have a stack of indictments waiting with his name on them. And all the Presidential pardons in the world can’t save him…

  99. How does coaching a football team warrant getting a medal? Surely, there are real heroes out there that are more deserving.

  100. cma1973 says:
    January 12, 2021 at 11:48 am
    Weak, simply bending to the mob.

    ——————————-
    Understandable, the mob is pretty crazy. They WILL hurt you if you say or think something they don’t like.

  101. stillaboveground says:
    January 13, 2021 at 10:19 pm
    How does coaching a football team warrant getting a medal? Surely, there are real heroes out there that are more deserving.

    That medal can go to cultural contributions. Musicians, Actors, and Sports figures have received it in the past.

    I am sure Bill wasn’t too pleased when he had to answer questions in press conferences about a letter he sent Trump that he read out loud at a rally. Not to get political on football talk, but I think the principles that BB speaks on that are important for success aren’t the current principles that Trump displays.

  102. I have said a lot of bad things about BB over the years, but this was a class move on his part.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.