Bill Belichick: who is the NFL coach and why did he decline president Donald Trump's Medal of Freedom?

New England Patriots head coach Belichick has won a record six Super Bowl championships
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has declined the presidential Medal of Freedom. (Pic: Getty Images)Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has declined the presidential Medal of Freedom. (Pic: Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has declined the presidential Medal of Freedom. (Pic: Getty Images)

In another blow to Donald Trump's presidency, top NFL coach Bill Belichick has declined the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Belichick, of the New England Patriots, was due to receive his medal - the nation's highest civilian honour - on Thursday 14 January but has turned the offer down.

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In a statement, Belichick cited the attack on the US Capitol behind his reasoning.

His decision comes less than 24 hours after the PGA of America stripped one of Trump's golf courses of the 2022 Championship to protect the association's brand.

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Who is Bill Belichick?

Belichick is one of the most highly decorated coaches in NFL history, having won a record six Super Bowl championships during a 46-year career.

He is widely credited for masterminding the Patriots dynasty of the last 20 years which led to nine Super Bowl appearances under his stewardship.

Born on 16 April 1952, in Nashville, Tennessee, Belichick has been around American football all his life, with his father Steve a former player and coach.

Belichick junior was raised in Annapolis, Maryland, and was a standout athlete at his high school in both football and lacrosse.

He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1975 before embarking on his coaching career.

What teams has Bill Belichick coached?

He took up a variety of assistant positions at the Baltimore Colts, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos before he joined the New York Giants in 1979.

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It was the start of a 12-year stint with the Giants who he helped towards two Super Bowl victories, earning him a head coach position at the Cleveland Browns.

He led the Browns to the playoffs in 1994 but was fired at the end of the 1996 season when he took up a position as assistant head coach at the Patriots.

Under head coach Bill Parcells, he went to the New York Jets between 1997-99 and stunned the NFL world when he resigned as head coach without taking charge of a game.

He was installed as head coach of the Patriots in 2000.

What are Bill Belichick's career highlights?

As head coach:

6× Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII)

3× AP NFL Coach of the Year (2003, 2007, 2010)

First-team NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team

NFL coaching records:

Most Super Bowl wins: 6

Most Super Bowl appearances: 9

Most NFL championships: 6 (tied)

Most playoff wins: 31

As defensive coordinator:

2× Super Bowl champion (XXI, XXV)

Who is Bill Belichick away from coaching?

Belichick has been active in a wide array of charitable endeavors, a regular presence at community events and fundraisers around the New England area.

In 2013, he launched the Bill Belichick Foundation described as “a nonprofit organization created to provide coaching, mentorship and financial assistance to individuals, communities and organizations with a focus on the sports of football and lacrosse”.

Belichick has called Trump a friend in the past after writing a letter of support to the then presidential candidate ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump read the letter aloud on the night before the election at a rally in New Hampshire, after which Belichick said it was a letter to support a friend.

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Belichick has three children - Amanda, Stephen, and Brian - from his marriage to Debby Clarke before their divorce in 2006.

What is the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

It is a prestigious award and the nation's highest civilian honour, the White House states.

Established by president John F. Kennedy in 1963, it is an honour awarded to individuals who have made “exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America”.

Previous recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom include Steven Spielberg, Muhammad Ali, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why did Belchick decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Belichick was due to receive his Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday 14 January but has turned the offer down, in the wake of the US Capitol riots.

His statement read: “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.

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“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.”