The New England Patriots‘ legendary head coach Bill Belichick has quite the conundrum.
The execution of this decision comes a week after Trump’s comments incited a riot that saw his supporters storm the nation’s capitol in a violent protest that led to the deaths of five people, including a capitol police officer. House Democrats are actively presenting articles to impeach Trump in his final days as president, and the latter is apparently using his remaining time in office to recognize and pardon friends, family–and even himself.
According to sources cited by WEEI’s Dale & Keefe show, Belichick wants to accept the medal:
"Per a source with knowledge of the dynamics, the offer was extended before last Wednesday’s events, and Belichick very much wants to accept it. He believes it’s a great honor." https://t.co/nbXsSlCCHT
— Dale & Keefe (@DaleKeefeWEEI) January 11, 2021
In light of Trump’s plans to honor Belichick and this latest controversy associated with the president, Belichick is getting some hardline advice from noteworthy people all over the country.
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Tough to Find Anyone Who Believes Trump Should Accept the Award
While Belichick may want to accept the award, he may find it difficult to locate anyone who supports that decision.
Take a look at the backlash that has come through on Twitter ever since news spread that Trump planned to award Belichick with the Medal of Freedom.
I wrote this.
If Bill Belichick has any integrity, he’ll turn down Trump’s Medal of Freedom https://t.co/fxFMA9exni
— Julie DiCaro wrote a book (@JulieDiCaro) January 11, 2021
Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern said that Belichick should decline the offer, and to accept it would be “disgraceful.”
JUST NOW: "To accept it is disgraceful. "
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) January 11, 2021
Author and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben seemed to echo those sentiments:
If Belichick accepts this from Trump, it seems like they better stop calling them the Patriotshttps://t.co/AF4E0tKcjU
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 11, 2021
CLNS’ Evan Lazar, a Patriots beat writer called out Belichick’s comments about social justice and equality. He says that Belichick accepting this award would be hypocritical.
In his final presser of 2020, #Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke about social justice meetings and work the team did in that sphere. Something he said was at the top of the list of things he’d continue.
Would be pretty hypocritical to accept medal of freedom from Trump. pic.twitter.com/ZctPsPTdr1
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 11, 2021
If Bill Belichick takes a medal from Trump, it will create a stank that all the Axe body spray in New England could never cover.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) January 11, 2021
These are the opinions of politicians and sportswriters, but what about players and coaches? What might they think?
Potential Consequences for Accepting the Award
I’ve reached out to several former players to get a gauge on their feelings about Belichick potentially accepting this award from Trump. The general feeling is that it would have a negative impact on the way they see the coaching legend, but most didn’t want to go too deeply into the thought, out of fairness to Belichick, who hasn’t officially stated his position on the subject.
However, members of the media and the sports world have forecast a pretty impacting consequence if Belichick disregards the advice to steer clear of any further association with Trump.
Lawyer and sports legal contributor to Al Jazeera News Exavier Pope suggested Belichick’s acceptance of the award should lead to black players boycotting Patriots games next season.
If Bill Belichick accepts Trump’s Presidential Medal of Freedom after an insurrection Trump incited, change the name of the New England Patriots to the New England Traitors & NFL’s 70% Black players should refuse to play them next season unless the coach withdraws his acceptance
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) January 11, 2021
Along the same lines, Mike Wise of Pure Hoops Media suggests Belichick accepting the award could have a negative impact on the Patriots’ ability to sign free agents.
If Bill Belichick is OK w/ the Congressional Medal of Freedom being put around his neck by Trump on Thursday, he wouldn't just look callous & tone-deaf during a crisis Trump encouraged; more than that, a lot of enlightened NFL players would hold it against him during free agency
— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) January 11, 2021
If you don’t believe Wise’s thoughts could have some validity, consider what’s happening with the Houston Texans organization. Deshaun Watson, the team’s star quarterback is reportedly unhappy because of the Texans’ hiring process for a general manager and head coach.
The Texans have garnered an unsavory reputation as it pertains to race relations which stems from their deceased former owner Bob McNair. Watson seems to believe the Texans’ quick hire of Nick Caserio (the former Patriots Director of Player Personnel) without interviewing an African-American candidate, and the team’s decision not to interview top candidate Eric Bieniemy for its head-coaching vacancy was more of the same flawed ideology.
If Watson could toss around the idea of requesting a trade based on those principles, is it really hard to believe players would snub the Patriots in free agency–especially when they have other options?
This could be a huge moment in what’s remaining of Belichick’s career. This might just be one of those questions that require more than one of Belichick’s signature short and vague responses.
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