FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — President Donald Trump plans to award New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, according to multiple reports.
A spokesperson for the Patriots did not respond to a request for comment.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by John F. Kennedy in 1963, and it is awarded by the president to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security of national interests of America, to world peace or to cultural of other significant public or private endeavors.
The honor for Belichick comes as the U.S. House of Representatives is increasing pressure to force Trump from office before the end of his term on Jan. 20, after Trump incited a mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday while Congress was in the process of confirming Joe Biden as his successor.
Trump has recently selected several sports figures and political backers for the honor. Hall of Fame golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, along with the late Olympian Babe Didrikson Zaharias, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday.
Belichick, 68, just concluded his 46th season in the NFL and 21st as Patriots coach. He has led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships, joining George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches with six championships since the league began postseason play in 1933.
Belichick’s 311 victories (regular season and playoffs combined) are third all time, behind Don Shula (347) and Halas (324).
Belichick’s connection to Trump was in the news in the days before Trump was elected as president in November 2016.
At a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump read a letter to the crowd that he said Belichick sent to him.
The letter, according to Trump, read: “Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully. 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. Bill Belichick.”
Belichick later told reporters he wrote the letter out of friendship and loyalty.
“I’ve received a number of inquiries relative to a note that I wrote to Donald on Monday. 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. I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald,” he said.
At the time, Belichick also noted the team had former Massachusetts Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry in its locker room a few weeks prior.
“That’s another friend of mine. I can’t imagine two people with more different political views than those two, but to me friendship and loyalty is just about that. It’s not about political or religious views,” Belichick said that day.
“I write hundreds of letters and notes every month; doesn’t mean I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about politics, religion or other subjects. I have multiple friendships that are important to me. That’s what that was about.”
Belichick has served on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition since 2018.
Politico first reported Trump’s plans to award Belichick the Medal of Freedom.