President Trump reportedly will award one of the nation’s highest civilian honors to New England Patriots head coach and long-time friend Bill Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Politico first reported about Trump honoring Belichick late Sunday. According to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Trump plans to award Belichick who had guided the Patriots to six Superbowl victories since taking the helm in 2000 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday.
It was reported that Belichick received the initiation before the chaos that ensued during the Capitol riot last Wednesday. He has not yet given any indication that he is reconsidering, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The New England Patriots have yet to comment on reports about the medal publicly.
Following the Patriots Super Bowl win against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, Trump welcomed Belichick and the team to the White House. The Patriots were the first championship team to visit Trump at the White House. In 2019, the team didn’t attend the traditional post-championship ceremony due to schedule conflict after defeating the Los Angeles Rams in Superbowl LIII for Belichick’s sixth Super Bowl victory.
The president last month reappointed Belichick to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition last month. Belichick was appointed to this role back in 2018 and this will be his second term.
According to the official website, the council’s purpose is to “increase sports participation among youth of all backgrounds and abilities and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for all Americans.”
“Each year, the Council hosts a meeting to set priorities and to discuss current programs and upcoming initiatives. Council members consider ways to most actively engage and inspire Americans to be active and healthy.”
Other notable names on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition include former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, former college football coach Urban Meyer, and College Football Hall of Famer Herschel Walker.
During the 2016 election, Belichick penned a letter of support to Trump but emphasized the letter was not a political endorsement.
“Our friendship goes back many years, and I think anybody that’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. The comments are not politically motivated,” Belichick said following the 2016 election.
Trump read the letter out loud during a rally in New Hampshire on the eve of the 2016 election.
“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully,” Trump said, reading from the letter. “You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully, tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow.”
The president has called Belichick a “very good friend,” saying he would phone the Patriots head coach for advice if he needed assistance in a military battle.
“He’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner,” Trump told Hugh Hewitt during a radio interview in August. “You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say what do you think? What do you think? Give me a couple of ideas.”
The New England Patriots head coach will follow a long line of legendary sports figures to have received the honor. Belichick would join a roster that includes, in recent days, golfers Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam and previously football coach Lou Holtz, who was recovering from the coronavirus when he went to receive his medal at the White House.
Out of the 25 presidential Medals of Freedom that Trump has awarded, 15 of those have been for people known primarily for sports, including two posthumous awards — Babe Ruth, Babe Didrikson Zaharias. The others are Alan Page and Roger Staubach (football); Jerry West and Bob Cousy (basketball); Mariano Rivera (baseball); Jim Ryun (track); Dan Gable (wrestling); Tiger Woods (golf); and Roger Penske (auto racing).
On Monday, Trump plans to award Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) the highest civilian honor and on Tuesday, the president plans to visit Alamo, Texas, to visit a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.