WASHINGTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern is among those saying New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick should not accept the highest civilian honor from President Donald Trump this week. CBS News has confirmed that Trump was set to award Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday.
In a statement released Monday night, Belichick said he would not accept the award, citing the “tragic events of last week.”
The House of Representatives is moving toward impeaching Trump over last week’s attack on the Capitol. The riot that ensued after Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol as Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory left five people dead.
“Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say ‘no thanks,'” the representative from Worcester told CNN Monday morning. “To accept it is disgraceful.”
Boston mayoral candidate and City Councilor Michelle Wu, recently endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, tweeted a similar reaction.
After the violent insurrection he incited, the only public ceremonies Trump should be attending right now are his impeachment hearings. It’s disgraceful to accept an award from him this week. https://t.co/KlHFaKPDnc
— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) January 11, 2021
“After the violent insurrection he incited, the only public ceremonies Trump should be attending right now are his impeachment hearings,” she wrote. “It’s disgraceful to accept an award from him this week.”
The Patriots have not yet commented.
The Medal of Freedom is awarded “to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House. Trump has given the medal to several sports figures and his political backers.
“If this story about Bill Belichick accepting a Medal of Freedom from the disgraced occupant of the White House is true, he’s dead to me,” longtime Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan tweeted.
Patriots fans had mixed feelings about the award.
“I think if the president is going to give you something, I think you accept it,” said one man.
Another said, “Given the climate of the last few weeks, and what’s going on today in Washington, it tarnishes the award.”
Last month Trump reappointed Belichick to a White House Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. Trump has always spoken fondly of Belichick, and earlier this year, he even said that he’d seek military advice from the New England coach. In the final days of the 2016 campaign, Trump read a letter of support from Belichick.