New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has declined an offer of a Presidential Medal of Freedom by Donald Trump in the wake of last week's riots.
A Trump supporting mob stormed the US Capitol in Washington last Wednesday, their actions resulting in five deaths.
Belichick is widely regarded as the greatest NFL coach in history and has previously called Trump a friend.
The rebuff by the six-time SuperBowl champion is another blow for Trump, who has seen his golf course Bedminster in New Jersey stripped of the 2022 PGA Championship in the wake of the outrage across America at the disturbing events which are set to see Trump impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time, one week before he departs the White House.
In a statement released yesterday, Belichick said:
“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. 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. I know 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.
“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”