In the final days of his tenure, Trump has selected a number of athletes to receive the Medal of Freedom, including former soccer coach Lou Holtz, who supported Trump during his 2016 campaign. The day after last week’s violence, he presented the award to golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias. In the past, the medal was presented to recipients in a ceremony, but presentations since Trump’s loss of the election have been private.
Established in 1963 by John Kennedy, the Medal of Freedom is awarded to those who “have made a particularly meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors to have”. The honor for Belichick comes as the House of Representatives considers whether or not to be charged with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In Massachusetts, the announcement was exactly what the six-time Super Bowl champion is not used to. “I would refuse if I were Bill Belichick,” Rep. Jim McGovern, whose district is in central Massachusetts, told CNN. “This President mocked the President’s Medal of Freedom. Check out who he’s given it to over the past few weeks: people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. I mean please. Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, “No thanks.” ”
There has been no comment from the Patriots or Belichick, who has served on the President’s Council on Exercise, Fitness and Nutrition since 2018. Belichick learned of the honor from the violence at the U.S. Capitol, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
McGovern added that he would be “very disappointed” if Belichick accepted the medal. “This president is incapable of being in office, so anything he would give me is meaningless and it’s a shame to accept it.”
While campaigning the day before the November 8, 2016 election, Trump shared Belichick’s letter on a campaign appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire, telling the crowd that Belichick had approved of this rare glimpse into his personal correspondence.
“Congratulations on a great campaign,” read Trump. “You’ve dealt with incredibly weird and negative media and came out beautifully. You have proven yourself to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your guidance is amazing. I have always had great respect for you, but the tenacity and perseverance you have shown over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will provide an opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow, Bill Belichick. “
During a regular mid-season press conference with reporters the day after the election, Belichick was full of questions, forced to do the rarest and most uncomfortable things for him, to pull the curtain back a little and reveal information unrelated to the upcoming game.
“I’ve had a number of inquiries regarding a note I wrote to Donald on Monday,” he said. “Our friendship goes back many years and I think anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me knows that I am not a political person. The comments are not politically motivated, I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald.
“[A] A few weeks ago we had [then Secretary of State [John] Kerry in our locker room. This is another friend of mine. I can’t imagine two people having different political views than these two, but for me, friendship and loyalty is exactly that. It’s not about political or religious views.
“I write hundreds of letters and notes every month. [It] That doesn’t mean that I agree with every single thing everyone thinks about politics, religion, or any other subject. I have several friendships that are important to me. That’s what it was about.
“It’s not about politics, it’s about football. We have a big game this week against a great football team and a great organization … “
Belichick, the son of a beloved and longtime Boy Scout at the Naval Academy, generally limits his non-football activities to his foundation, which provides scholarships and grants to help disadvantaged youth participate in sports programs. He has also spoken about Armenia and supported issues related to the military.
After the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2016, the coach and his team visited the White House, something some other pro teams turned down after winning championships. “Well, you know what’s interesting. This is our fifth Super Bowl in 16 years,” owner Robert Kraft told the Today show. Kraft, who supported both Barack Obama and Trump, later gave Trump a Super Bowl ring. “And every time we’ve had the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don’t go. This is the first time it has received media attention. You know, some of the players have the privilege of going to college because they are on national championship teams, others have family responsibilities. But this is America. We are all free to do what is best for us. We only have the privilege of being able to walk. “