“Recently, I was given the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal, in which I show kindness by respecting what honors represent and congratulating the recipients,” Belichick said in a statement. “Then last week’s tragedy happened and the decision did not go unnoticed with this higher prize. I, as an American citizen, have a deep respect for the values, freedoms and democracy of our nation.”
A White House official told CNN that the White House was aware of the decision.
Belichick has been the Patriots head coach since 2000 and has won the Super Bowls six times, an NFL record for head coach.
In 2016, he wrote a letter to Trump. “Our friendship has been back for many years. Anyone who spends more than five minutes with me knows that I am not a politician. My views are non-political. I am friendly with Donald,” he told reporters after Trump’s statement.
However, Belichick has repeatedly faced calls for the presidency to be denied because of the president’s response to US Capitol violations.
“This president is a mockery of an independent president,” he said. “Look at who he was giving it to last week – people like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan – I mean, please. Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say, ‘No thanks.'”
Trump has used the Medal of Freedom to reward his allies, whether they are financial, political or old friends. Representatives Nunes and Jordan are two of the president’s most vocal political allies. Defend him throughout his allegations.
Trump has often had fun with them and has done so for many friends, political donors and athletes over the last four years.
Belichick concluded his statement on Monday acknowledging that “I still represent my family and the New England Patriots.”
“One of the most rewarding things in my career came in 2020. Through great leadership within our team, the discussion on social justice, equality and human rights has taken a turn for the worse,” he said.
“Continuing those efforts while still being true to the people, my team and my country, I love more than the benefits of any individual award.”
This story was updated with more information Monday.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Paul LeBlanc, Kaitlan Collins, Maegan Vazquez and David Close contributed to the report.