New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick,
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.
The passive voice is doing a lot of work in that statement: Belichick was offered the award, a decision was made not to “move forward” with it. I don’t blame Belichick for the PR dance, but here’s what he means: President Trump offered me the Medal of Freedom but because of what he did and the shame and disgrace he brought upon himself and our nation, I will not accept it.
Beyond the pure schadenfreude, consider how deep this stain is on Trump’s reputation. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is our nation’s highest honor, and Trump is so disgraced that Bill Belichick declined to accept it from him. There’s a lot of unprecedented stuff going on right now, but declining a Presidential Medal of Freedom? Has anyone ever declined this award previously? A cursory search suggests no.
I’m sure the My Pillow guy will accept his medal though.