How should Bill Belichick’s decision be received?

USA TODAY Sports

The NFL, the New England Patriots, and coach Bill Belichick avoided a disaster by pulling the plug on the planned receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Belichick deserves credit for realizing that, after last week’s insurrection (tough word, strong word, accurate word), proceeding with a ceremony that had been planned before the events of January 6 would now be untenable, especially as the passage of time and the emergence of new video demonstrate how serious the insurrection was.

But how much credit does he really deserve? Was this a selfless act in the name of country, or was it an act of self-preservation in the name of his coaching future?

The carefully-drafted statement from Belichick suggests it was the latter. Through artful use of the passive voice, Belichick never identified the person or persons who made the decision that he won’t accept the award. Was he trying to avoid angering Donald Trump, or was the statement aimed at implying that either someone else made the decision or that Belichick reluctantly made it under pressure from others but doesn’t agree with it?

“I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots football team,” Belichick said in the statement. This implies that he received pressure from his family and from the Patriots to decline the honor.

As to the latter, he definitely did. Per multiple sources, Monday included extensive discussions and communications within the Patriots organization aimed at getting Belichick to choose a path that would preserve his reputation and the reputation of the team he coaches. Whether in the form of fan complaints, media critiques, or free-agent consternation, multiple reasons existed for Belichick deciding to keep his distance from Donald Trump.

Although Belichick preserved that distance, he has not yet disavowed his past support for the outgoing president. Belichick wrote a letter to Trump on the eve of the 2016 election expressing support for Trump’s candidacy. Trump asked for permission to read the letter at a New Hampshire rally. Belichick responded by sending a new letter that Trump characterized as “much better” and “stronger.”

Congratulations on a tremendous campaign,” Trump said, reading from the Belichick letter in November 2016. “You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully — beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again.”

That’s what Belichick wrote. That’s what he believed. Unless and until he publicly retracts the sentiments or rescinds the letter or removes certain words (like “amazing”) and replaces them with something else (like “not amazing”), this was not a deathbed conversion. It was an effort to avoid what would have been the death knell for Belichick’s coaching career.

69 responses to “How should Bill Belichick’s decision be received?

  1. Doing whats right can and does often overshadow the why. Bottom line is BB was cognizant of the potential repercussions of accepting the award, and he demurred. He stated that over the past season he learned a lot about what was important to his team and more importantly he listened and acted upon what he learned. That’s my coach. I’m proud of him and the decision he made.

  2. Putting his country and his pride ahead of a stained diminished medal because of the presenter.

  3. It should be received as a politically correct act. No different from choosing to use the right words when discussing gender, racial, or other social justice issues.

  4. Belichick deserves credit for declining the award. Don’t overthink it. It’s a prestigious award that a person doesn’t lightly refuse. Yes his statement was weird but at this time it’s prudent to be careful in public statements.

  5. If a person in politics you voted for & approved of, behaved or did some stupid stuff,you’d be doing the exact same thing. You’d be saving your own butt. Florio, stop.. just stop trying to make others look bad when you’d be doing the exact same thing these guys are doing by distances themselves from the President. 99.9 percent of folks would do this! He declined it. Now you want him to even come out with more… amazing… you didn’t ask for that a few days ago.. just for him to decline it. That’s the problem with some people.

  6. Who cares? The bottom line is he did the right thing. Trump is toxic, and in the past couple of weeks he’s totally devalued the Medal of Freedom so that it’s worth about as much as a Cracker Jack prize.

  7. 1st off it wasn’t an insurrection. It was a peaceful protest with some bad actors causing problems. Why is it that the protesters that rioted and stormed government buildings previously were just “misguided”? Bills is a punk. He’s supposed to be the guy who stands up for principles . Oh that’s right, I forgot I’m talking about the coach that’s been caught cheating several times. Nevermind. It shouldn’t be that surprising that he has no personal commitment to anything.

  8. Belichick wrote his statement in a way that made it clear he was declining the award while also not trying to stir up you-know-what. So, not a moment too soon, in swoops the media to stir it up on his behalf. You just can’t win these days, even when doing everything right

  9. Here we go again, trying to stir up a controversy where there is none. He declined it, most people agreed with his decision. No need to go cherry pick his wording trying to find something that fits your narrative. Let it go.

  10. As a LONOG time Pats fan who REALLY appreciates the fact that Bill Bellichick has been the the coach of the Pats for the last 20 years/ And despite the optics of THIS year, I believe that Bill had the greater impact of the Pats unprecedented 10 year reign of success than Tommy.

    All that being said, while I am glad he refused to be used by the “ultimate user”, I wish it hadn’t taken a day to make what SHOULD have been an instantaneous response. AND I wish he’d been more strident in his refusal. This was NOT the time for a diplomatic even minded answer.

    BUT like he’s said so many times, “it is what it is” and he will have to live with it.

    SO I think I will feel like most will feel. Glad he refused the honor, saddened that it wasn’t as vehement as refusal as we would have liked.

  11. Pffft, anything he says won’t be enough for the woke mob. Since the season is over……it’s “On to 2021”. And I wouldn’t blame him for saying it.

  12. You’re putting him in a position where he can’t win. Not fair. Bottom line, he refused it. Accept that and stop analyzing why or when and does it count or not.

  13. I don’t get it. First Florio berates to not accept the award and when he does decline it, Florio still criticizes him.

    (my original comment went missing. Sorry if this is a double post)

  14. That supposed letter from Belichick reads to me like the report from Trump’s doctor (describing his health) the ended up being faked by Trump. Does anyone really believe Belichick used words like “beautiful”, “amazing” and “ultimate competitor and fighter”? Sorry, I think grumpy Bill doesn’t use excessive words like that.

  15. You don’t know what insurrection means and I promise you, had those been democrats who entered the capitol, you’d call them protestors. We keep asking you to leave your politics off this site. The reason why isn’t because we don’t want to face political reality, it’s because WE DON’T WANT TO GET MAD AT YOUR HYPOCRISY.

  16. Trump is also giving the Medal of Freedom to Jim Jordan, who was one of the leading voices fomenting insurrection in defiling the capitol last week.
    You’d think Jordan’s turning a blind eye to abuse at OSU would have been enough turning bad for one lifetime, but no.

    I can see why BB wouldn’t want any part of it at this point. The award doesn’t have the same sheen as it did previously.

  17. Please let it go. Belichick did the right thing. He wasn’t the only person that was purportedly friends with Trump prior to him being President, that was duped and later used by him.

  18. “Don’t overthink it. It’s a prestigious award that a person doesn’t lightly refuse. ”
    __________

    And if a few more people had taken a similar approach over the past few years BB probably never has to decline this award because we’d be in a different place. The list of enablers who looked the other way and went along with absurdities is long.

  19. There’s no pleasing you, Florio.

    You wanted Belichick to refuse the medal.

    He did.

    Now you want to question his motives for doing that????

    Who cares?!!!!!!!!

    Your liberal bias is showing clearly, Mike. This is supposed to be a football site, yet here you are politically questioning a man who did exactly what you said you hoped he would do.

    He did what he did. He did what you yourself called “the right thing”. He doesn’t owe you or anyone else an explanation. His reasons are his own.

    Be satisfied that he did “the right thing”, and quit trying to find something more to criticize.

  20. He reacted as a true American Patriot, He shunned a domestic terrorist and domestic terrorists, and stood with those who defend the Constitution and free elections.

  21. It’s most certainly a little but of both. This is a man who’s delt with the media the way he has for 20 years and some change. He gives you everything, and yet nothing at the same time. He probably wanted to accept, and would have before this week. But he’s smart enough to realize how the media spins things and politely declined and moving along.

  22. He passed up a prestigious award and cites in the statement his conversations about social justice, human rights, and equality. That is plenty good for me.

  23. Probably was going to have to deal with a ____ storm if he went to D.C. to accept it,so I’d say it was the latter.

  24. Geez everyone – its not about the presenter! Its about what that Medal stands for in this Country! All this petty crap has GOT to stop.

  25. The easy way out would have been to accept the award and dispute any political meaning. Instead, he chose to use his platform to make a positive change. Surprisingly bold move from a guy who normally doesn’t seem to be aware that anything happens outside of the world of football.

  26. This article sums of plenty of what is wrong with people on both ends of the political spectrum. Do what I say, how I say it, and even then you’re still wrong.

  27. Things are only going to get harder for Bill as his mystique fades and more people realize it wasn’t the Patriot Way but the Brady Way

  28. Unbelievable take. The guy does the right thing and all you can think to do is parse his statement so that you can still attack him.

    How come you didn’t cite the part of Belichick’s statement? “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 benefits of any individual award.” Oh, right. That wouldn’t suit your narrative.

  29. You do realize that 70M+ people voted for the President. It is not controversial to have supported and voted for a President who won in 2016, right?

  30. Well, He’s keeping politics out of sports… More than anyone in the media and the players can say. Keep it classy and entertaining.

  31. People change Florio. You were once a lawyer, now you are a rumor monger. Robert Byrd was a grand wizard in the KKK and changed. George Wallace realized his errors later in life. Belichick was a Trump supporter and now he perhaps is not. Not a big deal

  32. I’m wondering if george1859 was able to type “those who defend the constitution and free elections” with a straight face.

  33. Why does one person’s future actions negate everything they did in the past? Belichick can still stand by what he wrote at the time as a reflection of who Donald Trump was, in his opinion, at the time. Future actions or opinions should not erase the past.

    You can look at Donald Trump and weigh his actions individually but you can’t blanket say everything he has done in 4 years has been bad and wrong. Yes I think he should be removed from office but that doesn’t mean I have to think everything he did as president was bad.

    You’re basically asking Belichick to cancel his opinion wholly, without exception. You said he shouldn’t accept the medal, he decides not to, but not you pry as to why he didn’t accept it. It’s basically unwinnable for Belichick until he agrees fully with you.

  34. Take it as a guy who has enough on his plate right now and doesn’t need another distraction. His reputation is already taking a bit of a hit with every Brady playoff win.

  35. If you are in the public eye, you better conform to the narrative (bad Orange Man) otherwise you will receive the wrath of the left, the Woke crowd.

  36. Clitoral Hood says:
    January 12, 2021 at 1:25 pm
    If you are in the public eye, you better conform to the narrative (bad Orange Man) otherwise you will receive the wrath of the left, the Woke crowd.

    I’m generally a pretty centrist guy who hates cancel culture.

    We all watched what happened wed, and we watched what lead up to it, and to insinuate “the wrath of the left” and “conform to the narrative” in this situation is a joke.

    Amongest the billion other things that went down, a cop was killed after being beaten with a fire extinguisher. To insinuate that wanting nothing to do with the person who incited that is conforming is absolutely revolting.

  37. Bill was tolerant of the players when they wanted to support the causes they believed in.
    If he really supports Donald Trump then he should accept the award and expect his players to be tolerant of what he believes in.
    Besides, Trump calls all the people who support him “patriots”. It makes sense that he would want to honor someone who is a REAL “Patriot”.

  38. He was probably afraid he’d be harassed by an idiot in a Camp Auschwitz shirt if he set foot near the White House, so he wisely refused.

  39. The only people who don’t change their minds are those who don’t have one. Many have been seduced by Trump’s flag waving gingoistic rants into thinking he is trying to save America but his actions since the elections shows his utter contempt for democracy and the rule of law. Whatever you may think of Belichick, he is a true partiot and what Trump has done is nothing short of treason.

  40. Bellichik should actually be the President.

    The news Conferences would be must watch:

    Random Press Person: “Mr. President, will we use Nuclear Weapons vs North Korea?”

    President Bellichik: “We’re moving on to Cincinnati”

    Random Press Person: “Mr. President, will you be benching the Joint Chiefs of Staff next Week?”

    President Bellichik: “We’re moving on to Cincinnati”

  41. I think he did it for reasons of self-preservation….I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that….Belichick may one day renounce the the positive things he said about Trump a few years ago…..but he certainly will not do it to pacify you.

  42. Like many , Belichick supported Trump but now that support along with others pushed Trump over the edge they are now cutting ties in the hope people forget . Too little , too late and no Bill , people won’t forget you along with so many others who publicly supported him deserve their share of the blame for the insurrection last week .

  43. Really Florio?? You want him to rescind a letter he wrote 4 years ago? What purpose would that serve? That would be such a phony move. He refused the medal which I agree with. What more do you want from him? Would you like him to switch to the Democratic party because that’s who you support?

  44. “The only people who don’t change their minds are those who don’t have one. Many have been seduced by Trump’s flag waving gingoistic rants into thinking he is trying to save America but his actions since the elections shows his utter contempt for democracy and the rule of law. Whatever you may think of Belichick, he is a true partiot and what Trump has done is nothing short of treason.”
    _________________________________________________________________

    Stupidest comment on this thread.

  45. surran70065 says:
    January 12, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    “The only people who don’t change their minds are those who don’t have one. Many have been seduced by Trump’s flag waving gingoistic rants into thinking he is trying to save America but his actions since the elections shows his utter contempt for democracy and the rule of law.

    —————————-

    AMEN!

  46. I think Biden should turn around and give the medal to BB. He wants healing – great way to start.

  47. From the article: “But how much credit does he really deserve? Was this a selfless act in the name of country, or was it an act of self-preservation in the name of his coaching future?”
    **************************

    Actually, it can be both. Furthermore, the fact that he stated he represents his family and the Patriots organization does not mean he was pressured into doing something he did not want to (per Florio). That’s your opinion projected on the situation and nothing more. It could just mean that he made the decision based on what he believed to be the best for him and those he represents. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s actually an admirable quality.

    Bottom line is Belichick did the right thing in a difficult situation which he did not ask to be thrust upon him. Good for him on not being a pawn for Trump, and good for him for not jumping through hoops to pacify a media that apparently expects him to go through his voting history and apologize for making what they feel were incorrect choices.

  48. mikejssr says:
    January 12, 2021 at 12:34 pm
    Geez everyone – its not about the presenter! Its about what that Medal stands for in this Country! All this petty crap has GOT to stop.
    —————————————————————————-

    It IS about the presenter, and what the presenter did a week ago Wednesday.

  49. Typical. The author brings up a letter from 4 years ago to try to tar Belichick with it in an effort to try to get him to confess his sins of what he said back then or else face his ongoing wrath… Let the cleansing commence – or perhaps let the cleansing continue is a better way of putting the authors work.

  50. To those slamming Belichick, who scoff at BLM and counter by saying Blue Lives Matter, what did you think of Capitol police officers being impaled by both American and Trump flags?

    I am from Boston and recall political leaders like Louise Day Hicks and Pixie Palladino instigating crowds to violently respond to desegregation of public schools. One of that great city’s ugliest scenes was caught for historical record, a young white man impaling a young black man with the American flag.

    That was April 5, 1976, 45 years ago. It appears the only progress we have made is that extremist mobs now don’t discriminate who they attack with the flag they pretend to honor.

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