Bill Belichick Declines Presidential Medal of Freedom Days After Retired Golfers Annika Sorenstam And Gary Player Are Slammed for Not Doing the Same
Bill Belichick has won six Super Bowls as head coach of the New England Patriots. When you think of the Patriots’ decades-long winning run, Belichick has been synonymous with that successful era. The NFL resume speaks for itself.
Belichick also recently added a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services title to his resume as a council member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. President Trump named Belichick to the role in December 2020 (his second time in the role) according to NBC Boston.
Yet another honor, one of the most prestigious awards you could get from the US president, was about to be bestowed to the head coach: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But, Belichick decided to not accept it.
“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,” Belichick said in a statement obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport per NFL.com.
The Patriots head coach went on to say this in the statement:
“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,” Belichick said per NFL.com in the statement obtained by Rapoport. “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.”
While his team isn’t in the playoffs this year, Belichick could’ve had an award arguably bigger than the Super Bowl to add to his already stacked trophy collection, but he opted out instead.
This caused mixed responses on Twitter:
Here was Belichick and the Pats at the White House in 2017 celebrating one of their Super Bowl wins:
And here was President Trump reading a letter from Belichick at a rally in November 2016:
Although Belichick chose to decline the award, professional golfers chose to accept this honor. According to ESPN: “Hall of Fame golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, along with the late Olympian Babe Didrikson Zaharias, have been presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom”.
Sorenstam is a three-time Rolex player of the year with 207 career top-10 finishes and 72 career wins.
Player has 118 international wins, 22 PGA Tour Champions wins, 24 PGA Tour wins, and was awarded the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
ESPN states “the posthumous honor for Zaharias was announced (January 7). She was an all-around athlete nicknamed “Babe,” after Babe Ruth. She was not only an Olympic track and field champion, but excelled in baseball, basketball, and golf. Zaharias was still a top-ranked professional golfer when she died from cancer in 1956.”
Belichick also has a foundation that provides “coaching, mentorship and financial support to student athletes & orgs” that he probably would want you to pay attention to instead of himself (as per his classic various press conferences):
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