New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has officially declined the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Donald Trump wanted to give him this Thursday. Coach Belichick, whose Patriots suffered a terrible season and missed the playoffs since the departure of star quarterback Tom Brady, had made a brief statement to address the refusal of the award.

Belichick’s statement was quoted on ESPN and stated the following:

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.

President Donald Trump has also selected Devin Nunes to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a move that was widely criticized by those in opposition to the president. Trump had also mentioned in 2018 that he wanted to award Nunes with a medal, and this is what Trump came up with about two years later.

What is the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

It’s considered by some to be the highest civilian honor a president can award. John F. Kennedy established this award in 1963 for people who make or participate in contributions to “the security of the national interests of America (ESPN). It can also be given to people who contribute to world peace, culture issues, and anything that is deemed public or private endeavors.

Are you excited for baseball?*
This poll gives you free access to our premium politics newsletter. Unsubscribe at any time.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Trump has given this award to numerous athletes. Annika Sorenstam (golf), Gary Player (golf), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (several sports) are some of the others.