“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 in a statement. “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 values, freedom and democracy.”
A White House official told CNN the White House was made aware of the decision.
Belichick has been the Patriots’ head coach since 2000 and has won six Super Bowls, a NFL record for a head coach.
In 2016, he wrote a letter of support to Trump. He told reporters after Trump gushed about the letter: “Our friendship goes back many years. Anybody who spends more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship with Donald.”
Still, Belichick had faced repeated calls to decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom given the President’s response to the US Capitol breach.
“This President has made a mockery of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” he said. “Look at who he is giving it to in the last weeks — people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan — I mean, please. Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say: ‘No thanks.'”
Trump has often used the Medal of Freedom to reward his allies, whether they be financial, political or just old friends. Representatives Nunes and Jordan were two of the President’s most vocal political allies who defended him throughout his impeachment.
Trump often delights in them and has done so for multiple friends, political donors and athletes over the last four years.
Belichick concluded his statement Monday acknowledging, “I also represent my family and the New England Patriots 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,” he said.
“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
This story has been updated with additional information Monday.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Paul LeBlanc, Kaitlan Collins, Maegan Vazquez and David Close contributed to this report.