Bill Belichick declines medal from President Trump, citing Capitol violence

The New England Patriots coach said he had been flattered to receive the honor but then rethought his decision after last week's violence at the Capitol.
WASHINGTON -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is declining to accept one of the nation's highest civilian honors from President Donald Trump.

Belichick, who has known Trump for years, was expected to travel to Washington to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday.

Belichick said he had been flattered to receive the honor but then rethought his decision after last week's riot at the Capitol. Trump has been criticized for instigating his followers before the violence of that day which left several people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

"Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award," Belichick said in a written statement first reported by ESPN.

Other organizations and individuals have also been distancing themselves from Trump since the Capitol siege, including social media platforms taking down his accounts and the PGA removing a championship event from a Trump golf course in New Jersey.

Trump and Belichick have known each other for several years with Trump before his campaign victory in 2016 reading a letter of praise from Belichick at a New Hampshire rally. Belichick said afterward he was not a political person and that he had "a friendship and loyalty to Donald."

Trump has selected a string of sports figures and political backers for the award of late. He has often held grand presentation ceremonies for the award, but recent ceremonies have taken place in private. Trump has generally avoided the press since his election loss.

Belichick is undoubtedly one of the most successful football coaches in NFL history and owns the most wins among active coaches. The Bill Belichick Foundation also provides scholarship and grant funds to help underprivileged youth participate in sports programs.

ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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