New England Patriots trainer Bill Belischik announced Monday that he has refused to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump, citing The deadly riots last week In the US Capitol. Mr Trump was to award the 68-year-old man the highest civilian honor this week, a former White House official told CBS News.
A White House official told CBS News that they were informed of Bilesik’s decision before the Patriots issued a statement. The White House declined to comment in response.
Belisik said in a statement obtained by CBS News that he was “delighted” to have the opportunity to claim the medal, but that the storming of the Capitol building, which many accused Mr. Trump of instigating against, changed his mind. ESPN was the first to report On the Bilishik statement.
“Later, the tragic events that took place last week took place and a decision was made not to proceed with the award,” he said. “Above all, I am an American citizen and have great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.”
“I know I represent my family and the New England Patriots,” he added. “One of the most rewarding things in my career happened in 2020, when conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the fore and became actions through great leadership within our team. The people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
With Mr. Trump finishing his last days as president, a White House official told CBS News that he intended to award Belchik the Medal of Freedom on Thursday. Bilesik, who won six Super Bowls as coach of the Patriots, was the fifth public figure to receive the medal since a violent crowd stormed the Capitol building last week.
Three of the winners – former golfers Anika Surenstam, Gary Player and Bab Zaharias – took the medal on Thursday, after less than 24 hours of rioting. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, was awarded the medal on Monday.
Many of Mr. Trump’s critics Members of the House of Representatives The impeachment decision was unveiled on Monday accusing Mr. Trump of “inciting insurgency” linked to the January 6 attack.He blamed the president for stirring up the mob.
At least one local lawmaker said earlier on Monday that he believed Bilesik should stay away from the medal. Congressman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, For CNN That Bleshik should reject it.
“Bill Bilesik should do the right thing and say” No thanks “… to accept it as a disgrace,” he said.
Mr. Trump praises Blelich and considers the legendary trainer a friend. Over the summer, Mr. Trump praised Bilesic and even jokingly that he would seek military advice, after being asked if Beliecik or Tampa Bay Buccaneers midfielder Tom Brady had a better chance of winning the Super Bowl this year.
He said, “This guy just knows how to win … You know, if I ever get into a military battle, I will call my plechik and say what do you think? What do you think? Give me some ideas,” said the radio host. Hugh Hewitt.
Bilesik was also recently reappointed to Mr. Trump’s Sports, Fitness and Nutrition Council in December, CBS Boston reported. The goal of the council is to “increase sports participation among youth of all backgrounds and abilities and promote healthy, active lifestyles for all Americans,” According to its website.
Kristen Brown contributed to this report.