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Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom

A man known for making great coaching decisions has made a great one away from the football field.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has decided to decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“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 past recipients,” Belichick said in a statement issued Monday night. “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 value, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots football 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 benefit of any individual award.”

The carefully crafted statement, including among other things deft use of the passive voice regarding Belichick’s decision to punt on the award, makes a very important point without directly saying it. Belichick now believes that the man he openly supported for the office of the presidency in 2016 has behaved in a way that cannot be reconciled with notions of social justice, equality, and human rights. Thus, Belichick cannot reconcile accepting a significant individual honor with his obligations to his family and his football team.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Sometimes, that pen cuts deepest when its blade is perceived as being dull.